It’s our last full day in Denmark, so we decided to spend it together at Funen Village, which is a totally awesome place that is part museum, part farm, part play place. It takes you from house to house through old farms set in Funen 150 to 200 years ago. There were farmhouses, barns, sheds, crops, animals, and lots of pieces of old farm equipment, so you can probably imagine how excited Dan was to see so many rural and farm accoutrements as we strolled through the many acres of actual farms that had been moved to the site to ensure accuracy. We spent all afternoon wandering around the grounds, taking photos, and enjoying the displays and the houses which were so historically true.
When we were completely Funen-ed out, or at least when we could finally drag Dan away from all the farms (we only made it about halfway through Funen Village), we headed for a small lake just down the road, where we enjoyed ice cream. It’s important to note here that ice cream in Denmark has an awesome and fantastical twist to it. Before putting the ice cream into the waffle cone, they first fill the waffle cone with a healthy glop of meringue, which means that you never get an empty spot in the cone, even at the very last bite. After they put the ice cream on, you can have another glop of meringue on the top of the ice cream, and if you really want to go nuts, you can opt for a drizzle of jam on top of the whole thing. That means the ice cream cone looks like an amazing work of art, and it tastes like heaven in every bite. We took our ice cream and headed off to the nature trails which weave through the woods and by the lake and all the way back to the main part of town. You can either take the trails on foot or by bicycle; either way, it’s all about enjoying yourself.
That’s something I’m really going to miss about Denmark – in the USA, we seem to be all about how many hours you put in at work and how much work you can take home. We don’t seem to value ourselves when we only work a forty-hour week, and we look at one another sideways if we turn down a chance for overtime in lieu of time with our loved ones and families. Maybe this is why people are so angry and bitter all the time; we simply don’t make enough time to play and relax. Being here in Denmark, without even trying, every day has been spent doing a lot of walking, and I’ve easily made my step goal every day without the least bit of effort. And it was nice to see a whole nation so focused on family that it slows down totally during the entire month of July to provide opportunities for families to reconnect and spend quality time together. We need more of that in the United States, and I definitely need more of that in my life, personally.
For me, one of the highlights of the Denmark leg of the journey came today when three year-old Zara was walking next to me. She’d borrowed her Dad’s little digital camera, and I was watching her trying to fall into step with me, so our steps matched. Just as I thought my heart would burst with happiness that this little magnificent being actually likes me, I noticed she was completely focused on trying to hold her camera wrist strap exactly as I was holding mine. Tonight, she wanted to wear a pair of glasses so we could look more like each other. Talk about melting my heart! This little girl wanted to be like me. Honestly, I can probably count on one hand the times in my life I’ve noticed that anyone wanted to be like me, and I have to say – it was better than winning the lottery.
Tomorrow morning we’ll leave pretty early for Copenhagen, where we’ll catch a flight back to Dublin for one final night of our trip. And though I’ve had a wonderful journey in both Ireland and Denmark and enjoyed every single day of this marvelous once-in-a-lifetime vacation, it was also a good chance for me to do some soul-searching and reflecting on what’s important to me. For a long time in my life, there wasn’t a choice about whether or not I wanted to work; the choice was simply how much work could I do because I needed to pay back student loans and find a way to afford shelter, food, and occasional medical care. I remember what it feels like to try to get a decent night of sleep in the back seat of a car, not just for one night but for several of them, and I would not wish that on even someone I dislike with a passion. But having had to work so hard for so many years just to cover the most basic needs kept me from taking vacations, ‘mental health days,’ or even much-needed sick time from all of my jobs. And it kept me from experiencing the restorative value of a vacation. I’m hoping I’ll return home with a new perspective, a rejuvenated sense of creativity, and a booster-shot of imagination to help me be a better writer, teacher, spouse, daughter, aunt, friend, and community member. And I hope to look back on the photos of this trip whenever I need a reminder of what fun it’s been to cross off a bucket list item and dare to make a dream come true.
Keeping a daily blog of this trip has been fun for me, and I think it will help me retain some of the memories of the things we saw, the people we met, and the enjoyment we had along the journey. I hope it’s been as much fun to read as it’s been to write and experience. And now, if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to attempt to finish my glass of wine, repack my suitcase, and dream about what might be next on my bucket list of adventures.