The Real And The Not Real
Are you on a suicide mission?? Freedom is that way!
Some days start differently, even in these Groundhog times and today was one of those days. I peeked my head around the kitchen door, adopting my most calming “this-is-totally-normal” smile (one can never be too cautious, these days…)
“So honey, what’s going on?” I asked, as nonchalantly as I could muster
“He won’t go outside!”, Paul replied in a rather exasperated tone, pointing his finger at what I could only be presume was the empty space by the window
“Ah yes, I can see that” I responded automatically, trying to put on my most understanding expression. Paul however, was not fooled
“The bee”, he insisted, moving his finger closer to a black & yellow speck on the window, “the bee won’t go outside!”
“Oh yes, I see him now!” I let out a relieved sigh “I thought you were going crazy there for a minute….”
When you spend a certain number of days totally confined indoors, say around a month or so, things start to whip around a bit in the ‘ol psyche and small, but potentially very strange things, such as talking to bees become part of the regular day-to-day. Yes, totally and completely normal in these times….
Abnormality & Normality
I’ve been thinking a lot about normality these days. What’s normal, or rather our “new normal” and also when “old normal” (whatever that means) might actually return. That’s a rather circular thought path, I do realize that, but sometimes it’s hard to see what’s past the here and now without a bit of imagination thrown in. What’s “real” today may literally not be “real” tomorrow.
Even the experts are having trouble with this.
As this COVID-19 virus peaks & countries start to re-open again (maybe in May?), everyone is hoping that things will get back to normal right away. But I personally fear that hope is premature. The re-opening is likely to happen very gradually, with monitoring/testing and potentially more shut-downs if things get out of hand again. And how all that will progress is almost impossible to predict at this time. So although some things may get back on track fairly quickly, I think travel & tourism could be restricted for quite a bit longer.
And honestly, I think that makes sense.
Here in Europe I don’t think anyone will be traveling freely cross-border until late summer, and even then it may stay mostly local (e.g. French staying in France) until fall or even the end of this year. In the US who knows….it all depends on the individual states handle it. So for LMB and our own RV travels, I think this virus is going to control our fate for a while.
So I Travel Virtually…
In the meantime I’ve been traveling in my mind. It’s an easy way for me to “get away” without ever actually going anywhere, and it’s something I’ve always done (and always assumed everyone else did too).
You see I spent a lot of my childhood alone for various reasons, so I developed a very intense & elaborate imagination. As a kid this meant I would spend weeks starring in my own brain narrative, traveling off to exotic places, meeting people, making friends, and creating complicated story-lines some of which would even flow into my dreams. I was a hard-core book nerd too (Sci-Fi & fantasy fiction mostly), so a good portion of that undoubtedly came from books, but I really just figured it was normal.
As an adult I’ve been lucky enough to make traveling a reality, but I still do the same mind-thing almost everyday, especially when I don’t have anything else going on, or I’m doing something mundane. I daydream intensely, and whenever I go somewhere I see & create stories in my mind. You could say I live somewhere between the real and the unreal, which I guess either makes me crazy or superbly creative. I like to believe the latter has the upper hand.
And it works a little like this….
The day before yesterday I went for my daily 1 km radius walk, a walk I’ve done around 34 times now, either in one direction or the other (I mix it up sometimes, just to make things exciting….).
On this particular day it was very windy and grey, the kind of day where everything feels like it’s just about to slip out of control. My hair whipped around my face, the wind howling in my ears and rippling across the fields of yellow rapeseed like waves on the ocean. The movement was mesmerizing.
Suddenly I was in Cape Blanco on the Oregon Coast. I was walking along the bluffs high above the Pacific, that same wild wind howling across the cape, past the lighthouse and into the thick forest by the campground. I saw the ocean, whipped up in angry white peaks, breathed in the salty air and felt the deep calm as a sigh left my body and released into the wind. That sound always brings me back to this place.
The wind changed as I walked into some trees, softening & speaking through the leaves like the whispers of ghosts. I flew to Denmark and found myself in the garden we used to have as kids. I was rocking in a hammock under the birch trees, the cool summer sun filtering through the leaves and the lullaby of the trees sending me to sleep. There was a smell of fresh-cut grass and a sense of deep peace and relaxation. This was a good memory.
Telephone lines whipped together, a rhythmic and sharp, yet deeply resonant sound much like that of ship rigging clanging together in a harbor. In the next moment I was in Winchester Bay OR, at the harbor parking in “the beast”. We had snagged the sweetest spot right by the water and Taggart was warming herself on her bed in the sun by the front window, the boats and water framing her in the background. I took a picture, and closed my eyes to listen to her purr and the boats making their music together. I miss that girl so very much it hurts my soul.
The wind deepened to a growl as I walked into the valley, the sound hollow and echoing as though through a massive canyon. I found myself in Arizona, on the rim of the Grand Canyon at dawn, the light just on the verge of moving from grey to pink. The very tips of the canyon fired in orange while her depths still bathed in deep hues of lilac and purple. There was no-one around except Polly, Paul and I, alone in all that vastness, the echo of the wind rolling through the hollows the only audible sound. Once again, I closed my eyes to take it all in and release my soul to the infinite horizon.
And then I was back, walking by myself along a little French countryside road and opening the gate to our house to step back into the real world. This is my life, every single day…
I do live here in the now too…at least some of the time.
Of course our little garden is coming along. Our tomato plants have already doubled in size since I bought them last week, but they won’t go the ground until next month. There’s an old English saying that goes “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” (basically it means don’t throw away your warm (winter) clothes until May is done), and for planting purposes that’s a really helpful tip. Hardier veggies can go in ground now, but the more delicate summer stuff (like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, sweet corn, and cucumbers) could be killed by a late frost, so they should never go in the ground before May.
Our little seedlings are coming along too (juuuust popping out), plus we’re experimenting with some kitchen scraps. Yup, for those who didn’t know this, you can grow real food from the stuff you usually throw away. We’re currently growing celery from the bottom bit, just by sticking some toothpicks in it (to support it) and putting it in a glass of water. You can do the same with a bunch of other veggies such as onion, salad, garlic, potatoes and even avocados (although you might have to wait around ~10 years for the latter to bring you actual fruit). If you’ve never tried this, it’s a fun pastime that literally anyone an do. I highly recommend it.
And of course I keep baking. A few days ago, it was one year to the day that Paul and his dad set off on their epic Camino de Santiago hike. It brought back a ton of nostalgic memories for Paul, so that night I decided to surprise him with a Tarta de Santiago, a traditional almond-based cake scented with orange & lemon zest that pilgrims eat all along the trail. It’s moist & delicious and was a total hit. Plus it’s a nice way for Paul to remember the Camino without actually being there.
Ah yes, Food is yet another way to travel somewhere without actually going there…..
So that’s my journey for this week, partly in the real and partly in the not. Maybe next week I’ll take you online, or somewhere else for a trip. Or maybe you’ll hear it in the wind and end up going there yourself. I sure hope you do.
So do you travel in your mind? Where do you go when you do? And are you planning to grow kitchen scraps now (yes, yes….please say that you are!). DO share your thoughts in the comments below!