It was a spring rhapsody. Just south of the Alps the earth had erupted in her yearly splendorous garment, so finely woven and luscious with large sweeps of soft greens and so much fine detailing. Such opulence in the weave had been due to heavy spring rains. One could sense the quickening everywhere. The air was rich in pollen and scents, which triggered hay fever. But even with glassy eyes, wheezy chest and runny nose it was pure delight.
Culture seemed more complex than nature and there’s so much to know and learn and it can seem like a book with seven seals. I tried to crack a few with the help of my trusty Lonely Planet guide books.
‘Lonely planet’… travel can be a lonely planet indeed. There were times of estrangement without the escape to the familiar activities and relationships of home. As a tourist one can only touch the surface and there is no time to deepen relationships.
But most often I had felt like a child full of curiosity, excitement and delight about all that was there to be seen and noticed. I wondered at times how much this sense of bliss was created through making no effort and a big holiday from everything that consciously or unconsciously constituted ‘my life’.
This mood changed on the way back. Gravity entered it became more sombre, “play over—back to work”, someone in my psyche seemed so say. Bracketing the unpleasant out, as I surely tried, is only a short-time strategy.
In my childhood, when spring was afoot, we were allowed to wear long socks, ‘knee socks’ (Kniestruempfe). I couldn’t wait, after wearing woollen tights and long pants for so long to have my white, skinny knees and a bit of leg touched by air and sun. We had white socks for Sundays and coloured ones for the week. In the village the houses drew shadows on the footpath, and the driveways left sunny patches. Walking home became a game to avoid the cold shadows. I remember the pure pleasure of the warm sunlight on the skin and of lingering, lingering, lingering—then dashing through the shade to arrive at the next sunny patch again.
I wonder whether I can also learn to linger in the shadows and feel at home in either.