It’s 7 p.m. on a weeknight, not sure which one since I’m on holiday and I prefer to keep it that way. I’m sitting outside in the backyard on the patio with a glass of Chianti (entire bottle under 5euro by the way. One of the benefits of vacationing in the Chianti region; not by accident I assure you) and my almost 8 year old daughter beside me with her journal and a pencil recounting her day including whether or not she has ‘pooed’ (yes that is correct. Her bodily functions have become a hot topic under the hot Tuscan sun as the time difference and changes in water and food consumption have flipped her up internally.) I’m no stranger to that so there’s been a lot of re-assuring, coaching and feeding of prunes and fibre along the way.
Holidays are different with a caravan of 11. Spontaneous trips to cafes to sip cappuccino and people watch are akin to hell freezing over as are 5 a.m. hikes up to some hilltop to watch the sunrise. Both things for some uncanny reason I thought I’d be able to do. I say uncanny; you say ignorant. Fine. I admit it. Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. It might not be exactly as I imagined it but there have been a lot of pleasant surprises on the way.
Who thought I’d be on a gelato mission with 4 kids to rank Venetian gelato over Tuscan gelato? Or do a walking tour of Siena through the eyes of a babe? Siena was fascinating. I would go back. Would I say the same thing if it were a 3 hour walking tour with just a bunch of boring adults all pretending to know cute tidbits of the Paleo horse race or the 17 competing contrade’s? Probably not.
There have been some magical moments so far. Driving around in Tuscany is a sight for sore eyes. Rolling mountains in varied shades of green. Vineyards carefully drawn out on some plots overlooking olive groves that go on for miles. In the distance, umbrella pine trees sway gently. Strong, sturdy, Cyprus trees flag the landscape reminding you of what Van Gogh may have been inspired by while painting Starry Night.
It is night now. Kids are all asleep. Another thing about writing nowadays…I have to do it in snippets. The sky is a blue-black freckled by tiny white sparkling specks. They surround me and glitter as far as the eyes can see. Above me. in front of me. Behind me. The beauty is endless. I hear crickets and other little insects in the darkness and the silhouette of the beautiful green Cyprus trees are now a black façade jutting into the night sky.
I let out a sigh and my eyes start to water. I wonder why we spend so many years of our lives shielding ourselves from nature through brick homes and city streets and metallic cars. Then we barricade ourselves in concrete buildings with windows that don’t open and eat food in boxes and drink chemicals with artificial sweeteners. Then when we realize we are suffocating or drowning, we buy a ticket and fly away. We seek out remote, old places with trees, and water and stars. We visit farms and make food with the crops that are grown.
We seek out nature don’t we? We yearn to go back to the source from where we came. Because that is where we can breathe again.