It’s been a rainy Wednesday here — not unusual in Brussels.
As my next exam is only in a week, I’d scheduled to take a day off today. I’m glad I did, because I woke up feeling awfully fuggy, with heavy limbs and a sore throat. I spent the morning drinking ginger tea with honey and reading the third Harry Potter*.
Despite the tea, my sluggishness persisted, so I decided a nice walk in the woods was just the thing to wake me up. The woods — a mere fifteen-minute-walk from our house — are my comfort place. Every time I go there I feel bathed in peace. I almost like them even better in the rain, because it gives everything so much muchness. The colors are brighter, the smells stronger, the air fresher. It beautifies nature. (For example, have you ever noticed how water snakes down tree trunks in solitary rivulets? The shiny tendrils of water remind me of snail trails.) Besides, the rain chases everyone away; the chipmunks and I get the place to ourselves.
Once there, I wandered along some of my favorite paths, pausing now and then to admire minute details : frail ferns, a colorful birch tree, a petrified vole.
When I came out onto the main path, my eyes were drawn by some yellow-white flowers. I would never have looked at them twice, had I not recently seen a picture of the very same flowers on David Lebovitz’s blog. Upon reading his post — in which he leisurely stops to pick elderflowers in the French countryside — I had felt wistful, and slightly jealous (“Gosh, I wish I could just stumble upon elderflowers and bring them home to make cordial!”). But here, in front of my very eyes, were elderflowers, I was sure of it!
Why, I could pick some too! Visions of whicker baskets and homemade cordial filled my mind while a blissful smile spread across my face.
As I continued on my way, I realised there were at least ten elder trees in the vicinity. I’d never noticed them until I spotted that first one. There were large trees, their sprays of flowers as big as my hand, and baby trees, with wispy, aspiring flowers.
However, by now I was starting to feel sick again, so I made my way home to fortify myself with some lunch. Filled with enthusiasm, I looked up recipes on Internet.
But … uh oh. At this point, my conscience chose to make a belated entrance, ruining the fun, as consciences often do. Say, it whispered, you’re so big on protecting the environment. Shouldn’t you perhaps have qualms about picking all the tree’s flowers? I’m sure it’s not allowed.
Well, sure enough, a quick search on the Forest Authorities’ website informed me that the picking of flowers is forbidden, as each and every little plant plays an important role in the ecosystem. Drat. As a member of the environmental group at my university, I couldn’t very well go against this direct injunction.
Ah well. The dream of elderflower cordial lives on. Perhaps the local park has no such rule.
Later on, I baked scones, as they seemed the only fitting conclusion to a rainy day. I curled up with a mug of tea, a buttered scone, and Harry Potter. Aah.
* On Harry Potter : I’ve read the books so many times, I know them nearly by heart. They’re sort of my go-to book when I feel gloomy. Reading a Harry Potter book, I find, is the equivalent of curling up in a quilt, with a warm cup of tea.