Once in a while, I find my inner being longing for meaningful aloneness. So on one such occasion, I packed my bag and left the city for a quiet weekend in Cybulin, with my long-time companion, Vidoudez**.
Cybulin, situated in north-western Poland (under the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, or province), is part of the Pomerania Lake District. Little known to tourists, it is the sanctuary for tranquility.
Upon arrival at my lodging, which was a quaint but typical cottage, I fished out my mobile phone to ring my parents. No Signal. I was totally out of the cellular service zone. This was the moment when it dawned on me that I really was on my own.
I could feel the forest beckoning me. Not wanting to lose even a minute, I dumped my bag inside the cottage and headed straight for the forest. It was the loudest silence I had ever heard, so quiet that I could hear the leaves falling. Autumn is always awesome, but here, autumn is even more spectacular!
The trees stood tall and proud, wearing leaves of every shade of yellow and brown, shedding continually despite the absence of a breeze. I stood still, letting the falling leaves rain on me, while my lungs greedily drew in the sweet air. Little did I realise, that as I stood amidst the trees, soaking in the sunshine, taking in the fragrance of the forest, I was letting out my fatigue and emptying my mind. It was a kind of “detox” of the soul for me.
Being late October, it began to turn dark at half past three. It was my first day and I would have especially hated to lose my way, so I returned to the cottage. Built more than 30 years ago, the cottage came with an enormous fireplace. It was a piece of cake to set the fire ablaze as there were plenty of dried twigs and chopped wood. I grilled myself a couple of fat sausages for supper.
I woke up to a knock on the door. I was surprised to have visitors – two elderly ladies who lived in the next cottage. With warm smiles, they gesticulated elaborately to indicate that they were my neighbours and had come to give me some eggs for breakfast. I said “dziekuje” which is “thank you” in the Polish language, which surprised them. I was proficient in Polish, I explained, as I had been studying in Poland for three years. The eggs, they explained proudly, were the best eggs in the world, laid by their hens just an hour ago.
They told me that they had been living in Cybulin for nearly eight decades! However, Cybulin was part of Germany when these ladies were little girls, so they grew up speaking German. Just then, three more villagers living nearby came to visit as well. I was pleasantly surprised with organic and homegrown potatoes, radishes, purple cabbage and raspberries (What?! Raspberries growing at this time of the year?). So, I met five locals that morning, which was quite something because one of them told me that Cybulin has a population of only 20!
I took a walk to the Great Bobiecinskie Lake. I was told to drink from it as it has pristine water. I stood by the lake for a long while, debating if I should row the boat out to one of the islands far out on the lake. They looked so inviting but I had Vidoudez with me, and if the boat should capsize, poor Vidoudez would not survive. I ended up in a different part of the forest with different flora species. I thought I would let Vidoudez sing among the trees but Vidoudez would not. The spell of silence refused to be broken. I had thought that nothing would come between us but now I discovered that silence had come between Vidoudez and me. I had finally found what I was looking for – a solitude that creates space for me, and that space belongs to me alone. I, me and myself…
It was so easy to lose myself in the splendour of Nature but the darkening sky reminded me of the passing of time. It heralded the time for fireplace and supper.
There is a Japanese word “komorebi” which has no real equivalent in English. It roughly translates as “sunlight filtering through trees”. Komorebi – this was what I experienced that morning as sunlight poured into the forest, rending the yellow leaves golden. I heard twigs crackle under my wellies. By now, I had gotten used to hearing only myself. Acres and acres of forest, untouched and untamed. Today was to be my last day so I savoured whatever I could. It is not often that one gets the luxury of so much space. I felt indulgent. I felt spoilt. Most of all, I felt recharged, ready to integrate and bond with civilisation again.