2023 Grateful 47: Somewhere

I find it way too easy to stay home. Not to go anywhere. Not to talk to anyone. I have to force myself to venture outside the village. I can’t blame it on the weather. I can’t say, hand on my heart, that it’s too bloody cold to go anywhere. It’s not the weather. I’m the same year ’round. Hot. Cold. Wet. Dry. Somewhere. Anywhere. It doesn’t matter.

When I’m out, I’m fine. I don’t spend all my time somewhere wishing I was home. I’m grand. I enjoy it. I love to travel. To see new places.

It’s like abseiling down a cliff. The thought of going from standing up straight on the flat top to leaning back so that I’m standing against a cliff face at a 90-degree angle is terrifying. But if I put my feet on the edge and rock backwards so that my heels are flat against the cliff face, it’s easy. There’s no big step. No drastic movement. Just a gentle rock and I’m set.

I didn’t make any resolution this year other than to embrace the possible. Yet in recent weeks I’ve found myself making promises to myself that I’m doing my damndest to keep – one of which is to get out once a week. Go somewhere. Anywhere. Not necessarily do something but go somewhere.

Last week it was to Budapest for a concert and an art exhibition. This week it was over to Kehidakustány for a walk in the woods to find a romtemplom (church ruins).

COllage of four photos. 1. A white sign with black writing reading ROMTEMPLOM at the base of a gree beside a green path in field. 2, 3,and 4 - images of a ruined church made of red bricks with an arched doorway.

There are no signs other than the two pointing the way. There is no information but from what I read, the church once stood on an island (possibly because of the frequent flooding of the nearby Zala River). It reputedly dates to the twelfth century and saw a few rebuilds.  The notable Déak Ferenc was a frequent visitor as he had relatives in the area. The island was variously named Elek Sziget, Kustány Sziget, and Remete Sziget, the latter because of the hermits who lived there. Local legend has it that one of the last two hermits, crouching near a tree with the hood of his fur coat pulled up over his head, was mistaken for a bear and shot. His mate lived till he was 90. Presumably he wore an anarok. Them’s the breaks.

A narrow river with bare trees reflected in green murky water.

The Zala River was a murky green. We disturbed a heron who took flight – a stunning sight. Propped up against a tree was a fishing net. Tucked behind another was an expensive-looking fishing rod. Of their owner there was no sign. Our only other company comprised a doe and her fawn.

a close up of white mistletoe berries - green stalks and yellow leaves. In the inset - a clump of mistletoe on the branch of a fallen tree

The recent high winds had left their mark. Fallen branches littered the ground. More than one tree had come a cropper. Mistletoe was fading from green to yellow, the white berries valiantly resisting a slow death. This ‘leathery-leaved parasitic plant […] grows on apple, oak, and other broadleaf trees and bears white glutinous berries in winter’. It has a dark side, too.

In Norse mythology, the plant plays a key part in a story with a violent conclusion; the god Balder is killed by his blind brother, Hoor, with, of all things, a mistletoe projectile. Some versions claim he came back to life, and his mother, Frigg, cried tears that turned into mistletoe berries and then declared the plant to be symbolic of love. It’s a plant that kills in more ways than one. Birdlime, or a juice made from mistletoe berries, is used as an adhesive to trap small birds. Coils of the sticky substance are placed on tree branches. When birds land on them, they get stuck. The birds can then be caught by hand. Though illegal in many parts of the world, some countries still use this method to capture wild birds for eating. Some species of the plant are toxic to humans too, if ingested.

a close up of a cross-section of a felled tree trunk/ .Inset - a top-down view of the fell tree trunk

We amused ourselves by counting the age of the few trees that had been felled. Had we had a measuring tape, we could have measured the girth in inches and multiplied by 2.5. Isn’t nature a wonderful thing? We take it so much for granted.

blue sky with white clouds take up most of a photograph to the left in the bottom third are the silhouette of trees. In the foreground, barely discernable, is a ploughed field

a strip of ploughed field bordered by brush and leafless trees set against a blue sky with the sun shining in from the right

It was bitterly cold but the sun came out on occasion and lit up the fields. The colours were clean and clear. It felt good to be alive. We walked and talked and wondered what life had been like when the church had a congregation. Or when the land had been one large collective farm. We took a look inside a couple of the abandoned buildings and I silently moved the whole place to the top of my shopping list when I win the Euro Millions.

A collage of four images. 1. the exterior of one-story cowshed with 11 windows and a door. Painted white it looks yellow in the sun. The foreground is green grass. The sky is blue with dark grey clouds. 2. A three story barn with eight vents in the slate roof. Two windows in the apex and four in the end wall - two on each floor. Surrounded by leafless trees it sits in a yellowed grass field against a grey cloudy sky. 3. The inside of the barn showing mud walls and wooden beamed ceiling with a large circular tub in to the right - possibly a wine press. 4. the side of the cowshed with concrete byres and concrete columns

Cold but invigorated, we made our way to the nearby spa (reduced prices after 5pm) to soak in the hot thermal outdoor waters before heading inside to hang from the bars in the medicinal pool. Then afterwards to the wonderful Vadászcsárda in Zalacsány for something to eat. Any disappointment I might have felt for eschewing the more expensive wiener schnitzel (veal) for its less expensive Hungarian cousin,  rántott szelet (pork) was mitigated by their dödölle (potato dumplings).

I’m glad I made the effort and grateful for the company and understanding.









4 Responses

  1. What an amazing building! And I now know how to quickly calculate the age of a tree – who’da thunk it…

Talk to me...