The Beach and the Power of Calm

Today I treated myself to another walk on the beach. It was a bit cold, but sunny, without wind, which is rare. There must have been some wind active further out on the sea though, because the waves rolling in were quite high – much to the pleasure of a lot of surfers who did not seem to mind the cold at all.

As it was a normal weekday morning there were not so many people on the beach, just some solitary walkers with their dogs, a few couples and even fewer mothers with small children in rubber boots who tried to play tag with the waves. The surfers were all out in the water, from the distance they looked like seals in their wetsuits.

I walked for a while, looking at nothing special, just feeling the warmth of the sun on my back. When I finally turned around to head back I walked a bit closer to the water line. The tide was low, so low that first I thought it must be at its lowest. But when I stopped and watched the coming and going of the waves I realised the water level was still sinking. There were a lot of fresh sea shells lying around, and of course I started picking some of them up. I never leave the beach with not at least one or two special ones, or an oddly shaped stone. I kept on looking, saw the water flowing out of the little sand pools, trying to get back to the sea. Now and then one of the bigger waves refilled them a bit, but all in all the beach was growing bigger. You could actually see the sand getting drier where the water had left. It did not glisten so much in the sun anymore, growing darker and softer looking.

I stood and watched and felt calm. Where all attempts to meditate regularly fail, sea and sand easily succeeded. I stopped thinking, I merely observed. I was.



Autumn Thoughts

Last weekend, autumn showed itself from its best side in the Netherlands. Many people see it as a sort of hobby to complain about Dutch weather, but last Saturday I think even the most dedicated critics were silent. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky, there as almost no wind, the temperature was mild. I went for a walk in the park and was surrounded by colour.

Leaves everywhere, a lot still on the trees, but also masses of them covering the ground like a carpet. Yellow ones, some with green bits, some with red, orange ones, dark caramel ones, fiery red ones. I started picking some up, feeling like a child again.

As so very often when I am walking on my own, my thoughts started to fan out. I thought about the seasons, how good it was to experience different ones. I love spring, I adore summer, but constant summer, no. There is much to be said about autumn and winter too. And what about the seasons of a person’s life? Isn’t it good to have them too? I certainly would not like to be stuck in a constant spring. Being a teenager forever? Not thank you. Summer is great, but what about autumn and winter?

So what age rage would I assign to the seasons? 20 years a season would make calculating really easy, but that would mean summer would end with 40 and winter would start with 60, which does not feel right. (Might also be influenced by the fact that with this range, I would have entered “autumn” last year, and I am not so sure about that yet…) So, what about spring until 25, summer until 50, autumn until 75 and winter from there on? Feels about right. That way, not only I can assign myself a couple of more years of summer 😉 but also my parents-in-law would still be in autumn, which does seem to be the case, active as they are. My mum would be in winter, and I guess that is correct too.

So, what is the point of all this? I am not sure there is.

Does one always have to have a point? Maybe not. This blog being what it is – a home for my random thoughts, a place for them to settle down instead of humming around in my head – I can just leave it like this.

But maybe, if there is a point, it might be this: Walking through this park, enjoying the beauty of autumn, I felt not only good about the seasons in the outside world, but also about the seasons in me. Even if I still place myself in summer, just to be sure. 😉

A week in paradise

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.