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Virtual visit to a happy place
Photo ID: beech forest in Girona in early October (above) and March (below). If you need to de-stress, just imagine yourself in this forest and breathe deeply.
So yeah, skipped a week, sorry. It was a complicated week, between two burning issues: one the coronavirus raging in my home state of Iowa (family and friends all ok for now, but still worrying and aggravating that the governor is not doing more) and raging in Spain, where we are in a second wave with some mobility restrictions and (gasp!) no counter service in bars and cafés, only at tables, which means no quick coffee, and likely means no tapas, as tapa-tradition is usually mostly at the counter. And of course that is a tiny problem compared to the rest of virus issues. Annnnnd……we are also on warning for further restrictions if numbers don’t improve, alas.
Other issue of course is politics. I am trying very hard to not talk about politics here, though obsessing on Facebook and in some private conversations. Including my chatty doorman José; had not seen him in several days since he’s only here part of the morning, so when I went down early the other day his first comment after good morning was “you’re happy, right? “, to which I replied that I’ll be happier when everything sorts out and settles down. Just saying: José is a Spanish John Doe from Thevilla (really Sevilla, TH imitating accent from down south) who wouldn’t need to know anything about election process in the USA, but he knew quite a lot. Just to show that the world is watching and wondering, too.
And last, less important for the world but a major thing for me: putting away seasonal clothes, a job I despise and would do just about anything to avoid, which obviously I have been doing because still having sundresses accessible in November is a little odd. Yes, undoubtedly I have too many things, every year try to donate something, but this year has been so strange that I didn’t wear anything because I didn’t go anywhere or do anything for close to five months.
So with all that going on, in addition to missing last week’s newsletter and procrastinating on another writing project, I have been pondering how to detox. Something that really IS detox, not avoidance or indulgence, avoidance like too-light reading or Netflix (though let’s define “too-light”. Light and entertaining is fine – ie, The Queen’s Gambit or most of the books I’ve read recently), or chocolate or wine or chips and guacamole as indulgence. Yeah, those things are also necessary, but they are definitely not detox.
One good detox is feeding my brain with other things and yes, have been doing that, have done several visits to the Archaeological museum (which if you are in Madrid and haven’t been, you should go, or put on your list for next visit to the city); the temporary exhibit “Invitadas” at the Prado; and several visits to the Thyssen museum, most recently on Monday to see the Baroness’s collection which I had never seen and LOVED.
Of course the best detox would be serious sweat-sessions at the gym, or a long swim. But right now both those things are high-risk, so alas, off my list for now.
Which leaves what is a favorite detox even in normal times: nature.
Thing is, even getting out of the city has some risk or some restrictions. Theoretically I could do a day hike in our mountains or a walk on one of our trails across the plains around Madrid. Those are easy access and in normal times I’d be out the door in a flash, but in virus-times everything needs a little more thought and a lot more worry – and my best hiking friend is hesitant to use public transportation, which we would need for the best hikes.
So I’m on nature-deficit now. Really must get past the reluctance to take trains or buses outside the city, I do use the metro occasionally so this is not that different.
But what I’m really missing now? Big water, as in the ocean. That is way off limits for now, with most regions under “perimetral lockdown” and many hotels or bars closed. So I’ll have to wait on that.
Other big miss: forests. Interesting to ponder that different kinds of forests feel different: my favorite kind of forest is beech forest, as in photos here of the Fageda d’en Jorda in Girona at different times of year, one of my most special places in the country.
Also like oak forests and mixed forests, but in a pinch will take any place with trees, even urban parks. True confession: as a kid, I spent a lot of time in trees, especially the maple and elm trees in our yard, also an oak in a nearby park, and have been known to climb trees even as a (chronological) adult. For now my forest-fix has been mostly the Casa de Campo and to a lesser extent the Retiro; the Casa de Campo is better as it is bigger and wilder, though the Retiro has a better variety of trees. In both parks I have chosen trees for leaning up and looking up as well as hugging, and can recommend tree-hugging as a detox, it’s good even if stress level is lower and really important nowadays. The other detox is imagining myself in one of my happy places, usually a beech forest but even the piney woods at Cercedilla.
Which actually….. could be a real reality some day soon, even if other places have to wait.
Stay safe and sane, y’all. Hopefully we will see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel soon, if the news on the vaccines is really real.