Thursday 1 September 2016

Seasons, seasoning, reasoning

Pinch punch first of the month! September is one of my favourite months; a few more weeks of ever lengthening golden light, squidgy purple berries and honeyed Russet apples, warmer clothes and a snug duvet, as well as exciting new lectures and exhibitions to brighten the dark evenings. In Northern Europe, September primarily exists as an apology for a terrible summer and is the only time, weather-wise, that I wish I was home. Even rain and mist is appealing as seen through the rainbow of falling leaves.

This year I'm greeting September with incredulity because this means I've been here seven months. It seems incredible that we arrived on a dark March morning with a long summer in front of us. Strangely it is partly the weather that has truncated time - by having mostly warm sunshine since June, days have disappeared in a languidity of pleasure and colour. Only the occasional storm has offered punctuation marks in time; a difference to mark the passage of summer, and most recently the appearance of dewy mornings to announce an Adriatic autumnal turn.

Which has necessary got me thinking about plans. I'm officially here on Šipan until the end of October leaving me with two months to decide what to do next. Some things are yet to be confirmed but are certainties nonetheless. A trip to London for blood tests and medication has to happen before the end of November. It's not life or death, just means there won't be any hormone based meltdowns over winter. This ensures I'll also be properly equipped clothes-wise for winter because I possess nothing thicker than a jacket and fleece jogging top. I also need a trip to Split to retrieve a duvet and my miniature library!

The other certainties include travelling more. Someone has suggested they fancy seeing Barcelona in October (subject to a million responsibilities) so I'm open to suggestions regarding interesting places to stay there. I've seen a boat on Airbnb that could be interesting for a week although it specifies 'no number 2s in the toilet'. Given my digestion on a week long diet of churros and manchega...but I digress. I'm mildly regretful that I haven't used my time to see more of this country and its neighbours, but height of season isn't conducive to cheap, quiet, comfortable getting-about. And frankly I've enjoyed an anxiety free life. At the end of September I am considering resurrecting the carefully mapped Balkan odyssey, and taking in Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, and Hungary. Using the February road trip as inspiration, it would be interesting to just book the first couple of nights to be secure, then wing it from there and fly back to Dubrovnik from whichever Eastern European city I get stuck in after a couple of weeks.

Did I mention regrets? A conversation yesterday about whether I had any has prompted a few thoughts. If I went with one of my options and returned to London in November I would regret nothing - despite the travel mentioned above. Although this could be remedied by shipping stuff home and back-packing leisurely to the UK via Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, the Baltic states, Scandinavia and the North Sea. To be honest I could do that anyway. There is only one event which to this day makes me shrivel with dismay at my stupidity. Although in reality the reawakening of true lingering conscience and care for others is to be embraced rather than easily shrugged off with regrets. Croatia has given me a sense of domestic peace which I've never experienced before. Although cooking contrary style meals for locals terrifies me! I hadn't realised black pepper or mild paprika were classed as ljuti.

When you've finally let go of neuroses and realised that nothing but loved ones are important, it's easier to let go of other desires and pulls. Instead of trying to constantly chase and expand to fill an entire universe, my universe has found and shrunk comfortably around me. I have caught my own precious falling stars, no longer having to reach unsteadily for those always out of reach. I am finally content with my abilities and what I have, so there is no further need for obsessing.

This place has made me a better, less-superficial person because I have time to stop and consider what would be better for other people. I'm never going to be perfect (who is!?) but I'm not finding myself so distracted and disconnected as I used to be. The road - or ferry - to recovery is still long, requiring patience. A few months here is just the start. It is easy to be content with scrubbing toilets when your head is preparing an article, a short story, or thinking about the next freelance writing job. Perhaps this is who I truly am. Let's hope September continues to bring forth a harvest of ideas to welcome the olive oil. Hours on the Elafiti ferries to restock my flour and baking powder once again provoking homespun profundity; or perhaps I'm simply being profoundly domestic.

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