A side road trip to the mountain valley of my childhood. Grey, old, looming mountains, serene meadows. Leather brown faces, gnarled hands, a wrinkled toothless smile. A little sandy field with a crop so meager, I almost begin to cry. A gaunt man in dark blue rubber boots pushing a wheelbarrow full of manure. I know him. He was a boy, when I was a forest-roaming girl with pigtails and a dog to watch over me on my solitary expeditions. I would search for snails with beautiful pearly white houses all over the valley and then bring them all home, to my grandparents’ house and place them in a little stone enclosure I had made for them, just to inevitably find them all gone the next morning.
A picnic. Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and tomatoes, picked early in the morning when they were still cool and fresh. Home baked bread of many flours and seeds: kamut, hemp, flax, millet, oat, buckwheat and spelt flour, pepita seeds, sunflower seeds and flax. Wild strawberries for dessert.
In the late afternoon the beautiful brown-white cows begin their slow, patient walk home. Enraptured I listen to their bells – a sound inextricably linked to this place, running like a peaceful river through my tomboy childhood, my happy adolescence and illness-stricken adulthood.
Before we wend our way back home, I find some old biscotti in my granny’s drawer. In the woods behind the house, I make a little winding crumb trail, a little feast for the forest mice with grey, round bellies.
Happy summer days.