It must have been springtime. Austria was becoming ‘home,’ to my teenage mind. By that I mean there was a sense of routine to some extent – school, weekends, social life, familiarity. My German was returning to me, those neurones that had sparked into life in my earliest days of life were in full flight. My dreams were now in German.
We piled into the little blue 2CV and drove up into the hills, the four of us. The family – mother, father, sister and I. We left the car and wandered through the forest, between the pines and firs, larches and little stands of birches, growing fast and desperately, soon to be overtaken by the conifers in their slow steady stretch for the sun. Here and there were patches of strawberries, the tangle of a raspberry bush, or a clump of blueberries.
We walked through the forest almost aimlessly. The path meandered into intricate little figures and curves, up over rises and then around little rocks and shallow hollows leading into the eroded bones of the earth. A squirrel ran to mother and chittered angrily at her, as though remonstrating this intrusion into it’s territory. A beetle in blue and black stripes waved it’s curved antennae from it’s impossibly beautiful perch on a moss strewn fallen tree. A dragged foot would scuff up the needles and earth, revealing a rich umani fragrance as though you could scoop up the earth and swallow it.
And then we stopped and ate sitting in a little area on tussocks of soft grass and pine needles. We stretched out afterwards on the ground, and looking up at the gently waving canopy above, fell asleep. When I woke, needles tumbled from my hair, and I sat up and saw my family around me, sleeping. I remember how beautiful they all looked, as though I had never seen them before. My family whom I had never thought of in that way, elevated by contentment to an image as though in a classical painting, at least for a moment.
Despite the feeling I may have about how tough life can be, despite memories of angry words, misunderstandings and arguments, I can close my eyes here and now, and remember that awakening on the soft springy forest floor to gaze upon my family lovingly.