Silence over Empty Skies

Silence over Empty Skies

Silence howls in empty screams

Across a wild and painful sky.

While emptiness like rolling waves,

Pitches sadness on a fearsome sea.

We knew it was coming and neither of us was particularly looking forward to the day. Chris has recovered enough from the heart attack to return to work, but work means Vienna. While he wrestles with the limitations his recovering heart now places on him, we both wrestle with the reality of separation. He has to return, so that we can move forward. We have to find a way out of this part of our lives and into the next one and that means, for a while longer, we live in two places.

It’s the silence that gets you. The absence of someone in whose company you feel at home. I miss the noise of the TV programmes he watched, I have become accustomed to Drew Pritchard, of Salvage Hunters fame and the shouting voice of the narrator on “Wheeler Dealers’, as I walk up stairs. I miss the cups of tea offered while I work – now I have to make my own. Things left behind are things to cling to and bring with them a dilemma – do I wash the towel left hanging over the shower door, because it was the last thing he used? Don’t worry pragmatism kicked it. It would be smelly in a few days, so it went in the washing basket. Its back to Face Time and frankly the real thing is better.

However, I know I will find my sea legs on this journey across the ocean of ‘singleness’. I have done it before and a few days out from land, I will be comfortable with me again. I can do this! I can settle in front of the TV and turn Strictly Come Dancing on!

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Autumn my quiet friend

The First Signs of Autumn

 

Autumn

My quiet and gentle associate

Comes unannounced

At summer’s fading

 Autumn

My generous, giving companion

Ripens richly

At summer’s desertion

 Autumn

My wildly, colourful acquaintance

Decorates vividly

At summer’s demise

Autumn’s back!! it seems to have a arrived quite suddenly, but oh my is it beautiful! I went out for a walk the other evening and the fields were warmed by a milky peach sun. Each day the trees that line my journey to work, turn a deeper shade of bronze and the year feels as if it is closing down for a winter rest. The farmers are busy ploughing their fields and now they are rich brown, instead of the yellow gold from a couple of weeks ago. It is such a wonderful time of the year to enjoy warm colour.

Dorfgastein, Austria

We found Dorfgastein quite by accident and over the years it has become somewhere that holds a special place in our hearts. The guidebooks say that Dorfgastein is a village in the Gasteinertal Valley south of Salzburg, Austria. A popular place for winter sports with plenty of spas and thermal pools; here body, mind and soul are all well catered for. We have faced a few challenges in getting to know the place, but somehow despite them, we are always drawn back to this restful valley.

A place for reflection

Our first visit would gave no clue as to the power of the little village to draw us back time and again. It started when Chris decided he wanted to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine road and went looking for somewhere to stay close by. This is when we stumbled upon the little gem that is the Landhotel Hauserbauer. This family run, friendly hotel became our ‘other home’ in Austria. The staff politely encouraged our faltering attempts at German by deliberately speaking slightly more slowly, so that the minutes of mental translation – German to English and then English back to German response – could take place. The food was amazing too. We were once served ananas soup. That’s pineapple in English. Try it. It is simply gorgeous!

Dorfgastein, Austria

That first visit, one late May, was dominated by the weather! We arrived in glorious sunshine, which lulled us into a false sense of security. As weather obsessed English persons, we carry the mentality that the weather is always better in other places. I think that is why so many of us English head to Spain. It is that English desire to see the sun consistently for more that a day at a time. So we sat rather smugly that first afternoon, drinking crisp, white, wine on the hotel terrace, breathing in the fresh mountain air and looking forward to more sunshine. The following morning, we awoke to torrential rain. Torrential rain that kept going for the rest of our stay. Now torrential rain in high alpine regions means that rain turns to snow on the mountains. Having arrived to fresh green sun drenched vistas; we left to snow covered peaks. The Grossglockner Road trip was postponed for later in the summer.

On another trip we attempted snowboarding. Here again the weather played a key factor. The anticipated fresh falls of snow had become elusive and on the nursery slopes, where I would be spending my time, what snow was on the ground had become too wet. As a complete novice, I was to learn quickly and painfully the importance of the right type of snow. For my first afternoon, I was booked into a lesson. Mr Day headed off up the mountain and left me in the capable hands of an instructor. During the session, I got the basics of snowboarding, but, because the snow was so soft, I had to physically work hard to get the board to glide freely. I was also lulled into a false sense of security; falling over was like landing on a feather pillow. When Mr Day arrived at the end of the session, we managed a joint snowboard down the small slope. I was confident that I was ready for more!

Therefore on the second day we headed to a ski field further up the Gastein Valley. We had been promised better quality snow. In my imagination, I saw myself gliding with grace and ease down the mountain. Reality was far less romantic and a good deal more painful. The snow at the second ski field was compacted ice and I spend most of the morning clinging onto Chris’s arm, as he patiently walked me down the most basic of slopes. I watched with admiration and a dose of envy as a three-year-old child on miniature skis, snowploughed past me with consummate ease. The final straw come, when I fell backwards hitting the icy snow so hard that the impact vibrated every bone in my body. Hot Chocolate and Chris’s soothing words were not enough to ease my misery. The following morning the snow fell. Large, fluffy white flakes fell silently, as if to sooth away my bruised aspirations. The valley was covered in a white blanket, wood smoke drifted gently into the thin, crisp mountain air and all was once more right with the world.

Despite these disappointments, this place has come to mean an awful lot to us. I have  had the opportunity to paraglide off one of the mountains, followed paths through meadows full of summer flowers, enjoyed apple strudel in one of the mountain huts coming down and hot chocolate in one when we got to the top. It has become our go to place when we went good food, relaxation, home comforts and the joy of watching clouds dance at our feet.

Dorfgastein Austria-3839

 

 

At Last: Summer Heat

By day, the oppressive air rules with angry fist.

The henchman’s hiss of silent summer heat

Extracts energy to power its unremitting boil.

By evening, the air relents and restores.

The gentle caress of breeze evening cool

Dispenses her refreshing seductive charms.

Finally at the end of August, I experienced a day worthy of my shorts. The main bulk of the mid to late summer weather in England this year has been disappointing to say the very least. Then, at last, a whole day of warm – one might even declare hot! – sunshine. Out came the suntan lotion, which had been gathering cobwebs in the bathroom and on went the shorts, which needed ironing before I could wear them. They had last seen action on the sailing holiday in Croatia and have since been stored away under the bed in the very, hot, generally not Uk weather clothes box.

Since the heat of the day promised so much, it had to be finished with a barbecue. This was an impromptu decision since planning barbecues more than 24 hours in advance, is the kiss of death to glorious weather in this country. Stealth barbecuing is the name of the game here. So it was that late afternoon, I was dispatched to local supermarket to acquire the necessary barbecue coals. The weather held. Mr Day set to work on the barbecue itself and I sorted out the food.

Because of this summer’s encounters with a heart attack, we have been reviewing our diet. Mediterranean diet the advice said, so out came fish and vegetables. Mackerel with olive oil and basil accompanied by courgettes, peppers and mushrooms. Followed by cooked bananas topped with chopped dark chocolate and dates. Prepared by Mr Day. He has been inspired by ‘Deliciously Ella’ a cookbook by Ella Mills.

It was such a delight to enjoy good, simple food outside on a warm summer’s night and to savour the pure pleasure of the breeze evening cool.

The following day, it was back to normal – grey skies, light rain and the shorts back in the box under the bed!!

 

The heart of the matter

The Heart of the Matter

It’s the heart of the matter

In these cold hearted days.

To a dear heart missed

Or a sweet heart gaze.

Where kind hearts weep at many dark tales,

And strong hearts wrestle with balancing scales.

Loud hammers pound as bad hearts curse,

Yet terrible words a love heart can nurse.

While broken hearts lie strewn where they fell,

Warm hearted folks collect oil in deep wells.

But silent hearts utter no word or sound

And dead hearts leave their clothes hanging round.

 

 

Heart Attack

Heart Attack

It was an unexpected outcome of a short break in North Wales and as I sat in a chair next to his bed,  through the early hours of the morning after the night before with a range of monitors beeping and an oxygen mask hissing, I reflected on the fact that three years before we had been in another hospital following a road traffic accident. Why there should be such unpleasant symmetry to this particular time of the year, I have no idea? I can draw comfort from the fact that we survived, and we know we can recover. After all we’ve done it before!

My own heart reflected on the 24 hours that followed.

1

I could have been left alone in this world

Clothes in the wardrobe

Shoes by the door

Your glasses in haste, strewn on the floor.

Unasked questions sitting in rows

Waiting with no one there to pose.

Plans from the evening hang, like balloons, in the air.

Yet, a hole in my heart, raw and laid bare.

2

Left over

Shaved chest hairs on white bed linen.

Plastic covers from sensor pads on the floor.

Unused painkillers on a mat by the bed.

Your toothbrush loaded and ready from the night before.

3

Last night, we stood and watched kayakers dance in the wild, froth river.

Today, on the bridge alone I shiver.

This energetic stream now restrained.

Its arteries of life constrained.