Today we went to the farmers’ market here in Odense. It’s only a few blocks from where we’re staying, but it was a cold and rainy day. Normally, that would make the trip seem like a hassle, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone else in Denmark, so it didn’t bother us, either. I guess the weather here is a lot like the weather in Central New York, where I grew up – it’s the kind of weather Mark Twain described by saying, “just wait five minutes and it will change.” The farmers’ market was great fun – when we turned one corner, Dan and I were kind of disappointed to find what the thought was a food truck ahead, but it turned out to be a cheese truck. A whole truck of cheese! Wow! Dan and Sasha got to try some samples, and the kind woman at the truck gave Zara a sample of cheese that she absolutely loved. I got to walk with baby Anja, whose stroller comes equipped with absolutely everything you could ask for, including a full rain cover that can be popped on in seconds. That was handy today.
While at the farmers’ market, we found a pair of felted wool booties for Anja. They we so adorable; we had to get her a pair. Then it was off to another wonderful walking area filled with neat shops and cobblestone roads that are only open to pedestrians and cars. There, we were able to find a small gift for Zara to remind her of us later, when we’re not here. I got to browse a really cute (but obscenely expensive) yarn shop, and we had a delightful lunch at a place where the service was really great and the chai latte yummy to the max.
After being at the Cherry Festival in Keterminde yesterday, I think we were all in the mood for something cherry-related. As it happens, one of the things we found in great supply this morning at the farmers’ market was fresh cherries. Dan doesn’t typically make cherry pie at home, but when he does make cherry pie, he makes the best cherry pie in the whole world! I’m not sure if it was my whining or Zara’s cuteness that convinced him that the cold, cloudy, dismal weather today would make it a great day to make a cherry pie. Whatever it was that convinced him, I’m glad because this afternoon, while Dan and Sasha went to Syddansk University, where Sasha works, to check on some of his projects, I cut up and pitted two pounds of fresh cherries that Dan turned into a delicious filling to go into his amazing scratch pie crust.
Meanwhile, Zara and I took our first solo field trip to the grocery store a few blocks away, where we picked up vanilla ice cream to adorn the finished pie. To say it was heavenly might be an understatement. Maybe pie a la mode is not the nutritionally best choice for dinner, but it was the perfect choice for us today. And though a Saturday evening may not be what others think of as the greatest night for staying home and just hanging out, that’s exactly what we’re doing now, and I’m enjoying it thoroughly.
Tomorrow is our last full day in Denmark, and I’m going to be sorry to leaving. It’s been so much fun to have time with family. I know our visit has turned their lives upside down and wreaked havoc on any sense of routine in their lives, but it’s been so nice to be there to watch baby Anja go from her ‘skid crawl’ to ‘crawking,’ that crawl that uses the hands and feet with her little baby butt sticking way up in the air. Those are the moments of normal life we don’t get to see because the kids are so far away, and they are precious moments I know Dan and I will cherish. I would gladly share a video of this particular baby milestone, but somehow after I started recording, my phone went into slow-motion mode, and it looks a little strange to see a toddler ‘crawking’ (and pretty much twerking in slo-mo) for more than a minute. Tonight we’ll go to bed early because it’s vacation time and we can. It’s still daylight here for a couple more hours, and the skies that were so grey and sad earlier are now beautifully blue, and I can hear the sounds of the free concert being held in the park a few blocks away.
I’ll go to bed tonight dreaming of the free family show we saw at the park earlier, featuring H.C. Andersen and a crazy recounting of The Emperor’s New Clothes and the street parade through town of all the actors that followed the performance. Before I fall asleep, I’ll look through the photos sent to me of my critters, and I’ll miss them all, especially Buddy, who seems to miss our daily walks a lot and looks downright depressed with Dan and I gone. I’ll think about my friend from home who, knowing my trepidation about leaving the critters, has been discreetly checking on them and updating me to ease my jitters, and I’ll think about how nice it has been to take a real life vacation for the first time in – well, way, way, way too long. I think the folks in Denmark have it right. In July, nearly everything shuts down for the month – including the college – to give people a chance to take a break and come back refreshed. And working overtime is discouraged because family is more important than work. I like that kind of balance, and I’ve learned through this trip that I need to find more of it in my own life.
Just as Dan’s cherry pie tasted so much better because it essentially came to us fresh from the farm to the fork (with only a couple of simple stops along the way), this trip has helped me to realize that I need to simplify my life a little more, too. Maybe that’s the whole point behind a vacation; it gives you a chance to reflect and refocus, and maybe – if I’m lucky, along with the memories I take home, I’ll also take home some perspective on the importance of relaxing and chilling out more. Like farm to fork, there should be fewer distractions, and a little more fun to keep it fresh. Otherwise, maybe the fork part is where someone says, “Stick a fork in her; she’s done.”