A time for renewal

I love this time of year, when I get back out into the country and stretch my aging limbs. Especially now that climate change – curse you! – is making such a difference.

It was Easter last weekend, and on Easter Sunday my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and My Beloved’s aunt came to visit. We had the usual late and substantial Polish breakfast as tradition demands: hot sour rye soup with sausages and hard boiled eggs (zurek, one of my favourites), herring with onions diced and served in olive oil (Polish sushi, according to My Beloved), grilled white sausages and kabanosy (thin smoked sausages), sliced, with cold slices of home baked pork and bacon joints flavoured with herbs and a dash of garlic, a huge bowl of potato and celery salad with mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs halved and stuffed with a thick mushroom sauce, and plenty of fresh bread and warm rolls. Many of the ingredients, in particular the sausages, eggs and bread, had been taken to our local church the previous day for a priestly blessing. At least, that is the traditional menu in my in-laws’ family – other families may well vary it.

It being sunny and the mid 20sC, we then decided to go for a walk in a local park with its old Royal Palace, and there enjoyed a delicious ice-cream, as did a crowd of other visitors, before returning home for the main event – roast duck with baked vegetables and cranberry sauce with a rather fine home-made cheesecake (My Beloved swears the best she has ever made – which is saying something, since cheesecake is a speciality of her culinary skills). It was a lovely day.

In the evening, checking my Facebook (as you do…), I found one of its Memories, a re-post from an Easter Sunday ten or eleven years ago. It was three or four photos, suitably captioned, of me and my (now eighteen yeard old ) son shovelling deep snow from my mother-in-law’s patio area. The snow was crusted on the branches of the surrounding trees and on the ornate iron railings surrounding the terrace, and was in fact visibly still falling. The contrast between that year and this was a stark reminder that despite the nonsense spouted by Mr. Trump and other conspiracist nay-sayers, Climate Change is indeed happening and we as a species ignore it at our peril.

But to return to the opening sentence of this piece…. Easter generally ushers in the spring season, some years earlier than others, and my winter semi-hibernation comes to an end. It’s time, more so than the traditional New Year’s Eve custom, to make plans for the rest of the year. The last New Years’ resolution I made and actually kept was somewhere around 1983, and it was to stop making New Years’ Resolutions! So in the spring I am digging out my hiking boots and socks, my waterproofs (just in case…), shorts, tee-shirts and light sweaters and my hiking hat, and preparing to head out and about again. I walk a lot during the winter of course (since Lulu, my English bulldog, needs regular toilet walks – living in a fifth floor apartment simply ushering her out of the back door to do her business is a no-no), but the walks tend to be short and restricted to my immediate neighbourhood.

Come the spring, I can walk further, explore the many city parks, stroll along the Vistula river promenade, or head out of town into one the forest areas, armed with a packed lunch and a good book to read, and just stretch my legs and my mind, both of which tend to sieze up a bit during the long cold Polish winter. I can review my summer travel plans (this year: a long weekend in England to scatter my late sister’s ashes, and a visit with My Beloved to visit her cousin in Switzerland…to start with anyway); to finalise the renovations and planting to be done at our dzialka near the airport (this year: some new fencing to shut us off a bit from new and noisy next door neighbours, plus planting some new roses, tulips and, in a frame I need to construct from an old wooden pallet, some small cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs); do some more work on the long labour of my memoir and maybe dream up some more yarns to pad out my Some Stories collection – and maybe even finish setting up my Amazon Kindle account and publish something (other than my blogs, here and elsewhere, that will of course continue).

So yesterday, I went off for my first walk. After a few days’ post-Easter temperature dip, we shot back up to the high 20s and off I went. Shorts, tee-shirt and my old felt cowboy hat (bought for 10zloty at a local seaside resort a good ten years ago) were sufficient, plus of course my hikers and a long hiking pole fashioned for a tree branch that had been tucked in a corner of my balcony for a few years (I got some funny looks on the Metro, but who cares?). The plan was an easy couple of kilometres into my local Las Kabicki forest, then the same back out – less than I would usually do, but my doctors are still advising I take it easy after last November’s cancer surgery.

The trees were coming into bloom, the grass a more lush green and the footpaths less like quagmires. At the bonfire and picnic field in the middle of the park the bins were overflowing and here and there piles of ashes continued to smoulder, thin trails of smoke drifting away on a warm breeze as I sat at a table and munched my sandwiches. Somewhere close by, at a neighbouring farm, I could hear a tractor. The paths were full of cyclists chasing each other this way and that, young mums walked their babies in buggies, and pensioners my age and older yomped along solo and in chattering groups, each with their Nordic Walking poles and looking askance at me strolling along with my Gandalf staff as they passed me.

But I was happy. Not only the wildlife, (the trees and hedgerows and forest plants, the rabbits and other creatures scuffling through the undergrowth, the woodpeckers and other birds flitting and cawing and hammering through thre treetops) but we humans too were renewing our lives. I saw smiles everywhere, heard laughter and bright conversation from everyone I passed (and exchanged friendly greetings with many, complete strangers all).

I got lost. My target of 4km or so came and went, as I wandered through paths I was unfamiliar with, thoroughly enjoying my solitude amid this teeming life, until I came finally to an exit I recognised and headed home. By the time I got there, I had made just under 12km, and was duly scolded by My Beloved who insisted I had done too much. Maybe she was right – I’m a bit stiff today – but it was fine day.

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  1. Very good and descriptive. Walking intl the country especially as the blossom and spring flowers are out.
    It is always good to see the change the seasons bring and the attitude of both old and young.


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