Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Walking through the Istrian clay....

A fresh Adriatic breeze is beginning to blow away the blistering August heat as the clock reaches the 20:00 hour.  Now is the time to walk...now that the family doggie can enjoy a stretch away from the shaded yard; now that we can breathe in the aroma of the surrounding fields, without fighting for breath in the humid air.

Rich red clay dirt packs the path as we meander through olive groves…  groves which have produced Istrian olive oil for centuries.  Aromatic oil once shipped to the courts of Venice and beyond. Oil processed by the families who have worked this land for generations .
I have been here before, in these same fields with this same family doggie, Floki. He leads the way, guiding us from olive groves to a row of fig trees laden with ripe sweet fruit. Bozena reaches into the branches, plucking 4 or 5 sticky figs, handing them to me as a gift.  We have found our after dinner dessert.

A small grape vineyard, un-attended, overgrown with grasses, thick at the base of each tiny tree, still survives..green leaves fluttering in the  afternoon breeze. Owners have been near; abandoned plastic chairs mark the end of the first two rows...a tired wooden table sits cockeyed … they have been here.

Crossing over  a narrow working road, a  lavender field beckons.
“ Come, run your fingers through my tiny leaves.  I may not be in bloom, yet I am still deeply fragrant. Take the memory of me home with you”
Lavender mounds in perfectly sculpted rows offer tranquility to the senses.

We turn to the path on the right, greeting a local farmer, stringing caution tape along the edge of his field.  A deterrent to birds? Other wild animals...I am intrigued.
“ Dobro vecer...Kako ste?”  Good evening...how are you?  Bozena knows this man who smiles warmly offering us the chance to pick whatever fruit we might like from his trees.  More figs for the evening meal; tiny sweet blackberries the size of a pinky fingernail are gathered into my open palms.

“ Hvala! Dovidjenja “  Thank you- Goodbye... Bozena waves a thank you.  I tilt my head and smile warmly, hands laden with gifts.
His eyes sparkle with the love of this land.

Flocki leads us home through the red Istrian clay

Thursday, August 25, 2016


6:30 AM - walk early before the summer heat settles in, that is the plan.

It has been almost two full years since I wandered the alleyways of Rovinj,Croatia in the dawning hours.  The air smells of the sea. the Adriatic is to my left as I head east into the morning sun...a walk which will take me out past the roadside konobas ( outdoor barbecue restaurants) featuring roasted pig and lamb on enormous spits….sizzling over open wood fires as tourists queue for a seat.
But that will be later.  At this 6 o’clock hour the only others on the streets are those headed to work, or a few like myself, out to get some excercise before the sun soaks the town in a blanket of heat.

Past the konobas and then a circle back and north, towards the ospedale( hospital), which sits in a park on the edge of a Rovinj neighborhood.  Boats, calm and still on glassy waters, are anchored in the cove tucked at the edge of the hospital grounds. Gulls chatter in the otherwise quiet peace.

I take a turn and circle toward town...circle toward the most incredible view of this ancient Adriatic fishing village; walk into memories of a short lifetime ago when this movie set town was home.

Gong…gong… gong….the bells of Basilica Euphemia toll 7:30AM.  A new day has begun in Rovinj.  The harbor is alive with fisherman; a sardine boat offloads it’s catch as the men gather to watch and chat. Seagulls, knowing breakfast is close at hand, circle overhead waiting for a chance to swoop in and snag a morsel.

I stand to the side, the only female in this orchestrated morning dance of men and sea. The pungent aroma of the morning’s catch assaults my nose.  The smell of the sea, as always, makes my heart sing…. brings a moment of utter connection and joy.

Across the main road, now buzzing with autos rolling into town, and through a side street lined with tables of men...all men...smoking and drinking their morning espresso.  Up the hill and past the rear entry of the Fransican monestary, still active after hundreds of years.  

The grade school, graffitied walls surrounding, on my right….the apartment building  I once called home on my left. My heart skips a beat.  But that was then…..

Take a turn to the left, up a bit farther, and I am home….home to Jan’s….home for the next few days.

Rovinj...such joy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Remembering Italy.....

SO,  I have time to kill today between trains and busses...in that LONG process of getting from Venezia Marco Polo Airport ( 7:30 AM landing) to Rovinj, Croatia ( 6:25 PM arrival tonight)..... LOTS of time to kill.
And, of course, I find a corner street cafe, order an aperol spritz ( which of course comes with a bowl of yummy salted potato chips- sustenance) -  and I watch and listen and take it all in!
And remember what I remember :-)

~~cigarettes - EVERYWHERE!  This culture still smokes like a chimney

~~Backpacks--wanderers traveling the continent with all they need on their backs- I, of course, relate completely :-)

~~gentlemen holding a loud and passionate conversation about some accident that happened a few days ago--arms flying, voices in a crescendo and a storyline that takes FAR longer than necessary to explain the situation ( to American ears) --- they, however, are enthralled with words :-)

~~tanned silver haired men - smiling at me as they walk by --a little touch of heaven!

~~ mopeds..buzzing, buzzing….

~~kebap eateries all around the train station area - quintessential Europe

~~Body odor

~~ honking auto horns

~~scarves draped around the necks of men of all ages-- in 85 degree heat - FASHION is king!

~~men with  bare ankles - sockless in their loafers and dress slacks

~~E10 bill after 2 Aperol Spritz, 1 sandwich, 1 espresso and a never-ending bowl of chips ( LOVE this!)

Even in the exhaustion of 30 hours true travel hours, I am enthralled ...delighted, to be back!

No photos I am afraid-- had my camera packed away and in storage at the train station while I wandered -- you will have to use your imagination :-)

Monday, August 22, 2016

When we least expect it, the blessings show themselves.  It is about surrendering the  ‘needing’ to know the outcome; the managing ‘ how’ it should look. It is about being willing to to be patient and simply keep listening…..

I have been arguing with myself for the past few days.  It has gone something like this:

Head - “... Post, Heart, we are leaving soon..it is time to get a blogpost in place!”

Heart- “ But I just don’t feel I have anything new to share right now.  Yes, we are  leaving soon, yes it is exciting, but really--- if we are going post on the blogsite, Head, it needs to be     something with some real Ummph- -some real PiZAZZ!  Right?  It has to have meaning…?”

Head - “ Well, sometimes, Heart, the point is to just get something out there-- keep people engaged."

Heart-  “ No. Not if there is no real soul to the post...  not if we are simply sharing for the  sake of sharing. What is posted needs to come from Soul...it needs to have touched us both. THAT is when we post.”

Head- “  Well, if we follow your guidelines, Heart, then we wait.  We wait for Soul to know that moment- recognize that wonder waiting to be shared with everyone.  Soul always knows….and somehow Soul, in her infinite wisdom, finds the words...finds the message. So, we agree?  We will wait.”

Heart- “ We agree - we wait”

….and then this morning, as I leave Seattle headed for my next Camino, Soul knows...

Friday, August 12, 2016



In Camino circles it is said by many that the true camino begins once the decision to walk is made.  And then, there are those that focus on what comes at the end of the walk, proclaiming that true Camino begins after the physical walk: the physical, mental and emotional toll faced while on the trail..that one's true Camino begins with what is learned and transported back to daily life.

If either of these are true,and I believe the Camino begins at the ‘ ahaa’ moment of calling to walk and continues through the transformative growth cycle which plays out upon completion of the journey, then I have been ‘ camino-ing’ for 5 years now.

Five years ago this summer I knew I would walk my first Camino. No question, no doubt.  And it happened in Sept. 2014 - quite the wait.  Since then, other walks have called and I have gone.  Emotional growth, a sense of peace and a learning to completely forgive have moved me forward in these last two years; out in the open air...doing what I do... walking pilgrimage paths.

A Camino along the Via Francigena last year, with a walking partner, brought me to an understanding that I truly need only myself to be happy.  Do I want other company? Of course, most of us do. Do I need other company, no.  I am complete in and of myself.

So why has this next walk- a walk I know I am destined to make- been such a challenge?
Decisions on where to start, to walk alone or with others at the start, trying to understand
the periods of ambivalence I have felt in these last weeks... all have brought me to question if, in fact, I am listening carefully enough...am I aware...receptive...accepting of the what the Universe is telling me? Have I gone into ' manager' mode?

And, as soon as I let go-- as soon as I quit trying to manage the flow and understand the whys-- a clarity comes.  THIS Camino is the culmination of the last two years of walking, sharing, growing.  This upcoming Camino is about 100% trust  that all I need to know will show itself at just the right moment. It is not mine to figure it out the whys and hows - know the answers- yet.
It is my job to get silent and listen for the next right move...make that move. And then listen for the next move...and make just that move..step at a time... one move at a time.

My upcoming walk in Portugal is my walk into purpose.  Yes, walking and writing have been the beginning, the first act in a much greater, still unfolding show, this much I do know.
Something magical is about to unfold.  How do I know?  Because my soul knows I am to walk.  Because the sense of peace and calm which enveloped me as soon as I locked onto the city of Coimbra as my starting point has been overwhelming… gripping.  
Because I got excited again- all ambivalence tossed by the wayside.

And so, I am off!  Day by day- one day at a time- watch, listen, hear what is being shared.
I Am aware… I AM receptive… I AM accepting.