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I love this time of year. The endless rains lead to verdant velvety hills and meadows. Shamrocks begin to sprout in rocks faces and dirt patches.
In the month of March every year as a child, I had a strange idea about the green hills. I believed that if I climbed up and over one of those rolling wonders, I would enter a magical world full of vibrant hues, edible flowers tasting of Turkish Delight, talking felines and pink skies. I would drag my parents on hikes and insist on climbing over the highest emerald-colored ridge. They were surprised by my endurance: I could climb and climb, always seeking that path to another dimension. Even though I never found it, I was sure that I just hadn’t climbed the right slope yet.
One rainy afternoon when I was six, I got into an argument with my mom about Barbie dolls. (She wouldn’t allow them.) I decided to run away. Now was the time for me to seek that wondrous place I knew existed! I snuck out of the house (this memory strikes terror into me now that I’m a mother) and headed Uphill. I walked several blocks, seeking that greenest gradient. I fell and cut open my knee and began to cry but I continued to hobble upwards. A kindly neighbor found me, and I told her about my quest. As I was telling my woeful tale of how grim this world was, and how vibrant my imaginary world would be, it began to rain again. I was cold, and so I allowed the neighbor to walk me home.
That was pretty much the end of the fantasy, but in high school I ran frequently over local mountain trails, and I had always the urge to push up. My favorite trail was a brutal vertical climb over a precipice, then down a coastal bluff that ended at a beautiful (if cold) beach. Now that I look back, I think I still believed that I might, yet, reach that fairy land.
When I visited Switzerland, I finally found the closest place on earth to my imaginary paradise. While in Interlaken, my friend and I took the steepest hike I have ever attempted up a mountain trail. The only life on the rarely used footpath were actual mountain goats and farmers. Up and up we wound on the zigzagging path, until we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of an Alpine meadow. It was incredibly beautiful. The wind was blowing a gentle breeze through a small level patch where a small stream wound through a field of wildflowers. The flowers were not made of sugar, but the sky had a pinkish hue and I could hear the melodious sound of mooing and bells ringing, courtesy of the nearby dairy cows.
I insisted that my friend take a photo, but unfortunately I only had a crappy disposable camera, so the evidence insufficiently captures the Brigadoon-esque nature of the habitat. Still, here it is:
Today I noticed as I was driving the kids to school that the nearby hillside was radiating that special greenish-hue of my childhood, and I felt a strong urge to do a U-turn, park and climb the darn thing.
I didn’t of course. But I was pleased that my youthful dream still burns and sparks, underneath my mantle of heavy responsibilities and my various disillusionments.