I have been taking a week off – off from my usual life and also from the blogging world (although I have to confess I did sneak in a couple of times for a quick read). The boys had one week of holidays which we spent at the place that for me is a small paradise on earth: No, not a tropical island with beaches and palm trees, but a house in the Austrian countryside where I spent a good deal of my childhood.
It is the place where I can unravel like nowhere else. It begins when I step out of the car and take the first breath of that fresh, clean air that smells of the trees I know so well. Everything slows down there. ‘There’ is the house I know every corner of. ‘There’ is the garden with my trees, the grass, the flowers (yes, they were starting to appear, rather early this year). ‘There’ is the green fields and meadows and forests surrounding the garden, where I used to play in my own pretend universe when I was small. ‘There’ is the lake you can see from the garden, with clear water, sometimes all shades of blue, turquoise, green, sometimes even purple – I could spent hours watching it change. And behind the lake, the mountains, now capped with snow, against a bright blue sky (of course it can also be very grey and dull and wet, but not this week).
When I am there, I can step out of my daily life and just be me. Put on an old pair of jeans, grab some scissors and a bucket and disappear in the garden, cutting, trimming, digging with my fingers in the earth. I am free of most of my normal chores – my mother does the cooking and the washing (thanks so much for that, Mum!) like she did when I was a child. I only have to handle the boys, who in turn transform into their holiday selves, (mostly) happy and free. They spend hours playing football in the garden, they work on their tree house, let model airplanes fly above the fields and play with the toys that have been patiently waiting for them since last summer.
And I walk around the garden, tackling some stubborn blackberries (that insist on growing in the most strange and – for us – inconvenient places) and only have to settle the occasional fight over “that was a foul! – no it wasn’t ’cause I did not do it on purpose!” or “that was out! – no that was in!” (when they switch from football to tennis for a change). But even these fights seem different, are holiday fights and most of the time less fierce.
Life was simple this week – gardening, doings some grocery shopping, one day of driving up into the mountains to let the boys play in the snow. Long talks with my mother in the evenings.
I feel a calm there I feel nowhere else, I can recharge my batteries, I start dreaming daydreams and believe in impossible things again. If there was ever a shred of doubt in me about the power that nature has over my mind and soul, it would dissolve there.
But, as you can see in my use of “there” instead of “here” – we are back. School started again yesterday, and I have to say the boys where happy to be back with their friends. And I? I would not have minded lingering a little longer. But I guess it is time to be back to the duties and challenges of normal life. Time to see if I can bring some of the day dreams to life.
And we will be back in summer, as always.