My friend Steffi asked me, "What are you going to do tomorrow afternoon, when Rafael is with the babysitter?" In the past the answer was always, "Clean in peace." This time it was, "Visit Gerit, and take my camera with me."
I am learning to clean while Raffi is home, and enjoy hobbies and leisure while he is away. It's still not easy for me to just step out of the house, leaving behind piles of laundry and a floor scattered with toys and books. But I am getting better at it. If I want to have some balance in my life, if I want to take photos or have meaningful conversations with friends without being interrupted, this is the way I need to do things.
My hours spent at Gerit's home were wonderful. She spoiled me with homemade chocolate cake, and showed me the ducklings, and the raised beds with tender pumpkin vines and blossoms. She also took me up to the hay loft, where she strings up herbs to dry, and generously gave me a bundle of oregano and hyssop.
When Gerit and I meet up, we always end up talking about plants: wild edibles, herbs, medicinal uses. I learn so much from her. Often when I take walks, I'll come across a plant I don't recognize. I take a picture and send her an email: "Do you know this one?" She either answers herself or forwards my email to a few 'kräuterhexen' (which translates from German to 'herb witches') for them to help identify.
I love Gerit's home. The little kitchen cluttered with treasures: a jar of especially pretty chicken feathers, a bowl of dried rose petals, honey from the local bee-keeper, blue and white eggs from the coop, and countless jars of dried wild herbs that she has gathered from the near by fields. I love her garden, with giant forests of stinging nettles, dead nettles, and elderberry, and ducks and chickens picking quietly at the clover-covered ground. The thin winding path leading to the brook in the back, and the gigantic old pear tree where crows have nested. It truly is a little piece of paradise.
I am grateful for her friendship, and happy that there are people and places like this.
P.S. To see more of this little piece of paradise, click here.