it was a day one could rightfully call tranquil. in the nordic sense of it. a fine september day of warm, humid air that somehow always reminds me of milk. barely any wind. barely any mosquitoes. quietness. there is no direct sunlight; instead it comes through a greyish layer of clouds that form a blanket. it hangs low and makes you feel comfortable. the smells pull your nose closer to the ground where you can take a better whiff. they are warm and casually intense. the ground is the olfactory treasury of autumn as opposed to summer when the smells seem to come at you from above.
i hadn’t seen my parents in a few months as i lived in a different city. we went to our dacha not far from the ladoga lake. dacha is a russian word for a summer house/ cabin, the distinction being that in russian it is strongly associated with garden labor as people usually grow all kinds of vegetables, berries, and fruits on the attached parcel of land, however small. my family is no exception. over the years, however, produce was to a solid extent replaced by grasses and flowering flora as my mother’s interest in the plant world and her knowledge of botany, sustainable practices, and landscape design grew. she now even receives commissions to create small-scale landscapes. it is quite ironic because, according to her own words, when she was younger the concept of “digging in the ground for pleasure” was wholly foreign to her.
my dad is a retired military man. he is really good with his hands. he built the cabin all by himself and he helps my mom with gardening and landscaping work. they are a power tandem. they of course still grow tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, pumpkins, and various squashes. berries are a BIG thing, too, as for most people in northern europe. honeysuckle, gooseberry, barberry, red and black currant, wild and garden strawberry, raspberry, juneberry, physalis are all there…
we spent most of the day outside. we did nothing extraordinary and yet i often go back to that day in my memory. there is something archetypal in it for me that i cannot clearly explain. the place, the weather, the family. everything as it should be when you are home.
is there a day like that for you?