Especially in winter time, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, the Romanian villages are fast asleep. There is not even a soul outside the house and it seems like everyone is neatly tucked in trying to keep warm. It has been a flurry day. Gray clouds covered the sun up until it was time to set, and Heaven poured on us floating frozen feathers. As always, snow calms people down, they move slowly in the flurry air, breathing in the heavily scented air of burnt wood and pine forest from the hills behind the houses.
With frozen fingers, you take the images that are already developing in your heart, while your muscles protest going up the hill on the slippery path. It’s been a while since you’ve been out in the open, especially out in the woods. On your way up you meet wonderful people, greeting you and asking about your day, while their little feisty creatures stop at your feet analyzing if you’re a threat or not. One word is enough and you’re already best pals, and their furry tails swish spirited. You part ways with a smile on your face and your breath becomes heavier while you try to balance your camera, bag, and your pace steady uphill. Somewhere in the village below someone is baking an apple pie. The smell infiltrates the woods and suddenly you crave coffee and a slice of that homemade pie. The pines are shedding their bark, snakelike, and all of a sudden you find your hands fills with cones, pieces of bark and little forest treasures that you admire mesmerized by their beauty and simplicity. The village is now hidden by a curtain of pine trees and the silence is almost deafening. You can hear your heart beating in your chest, you can hear your breath, and even see it forming little clouds in the crisp air. You find an even spot, open the shutter and take a few photos of the forest around you and the village that lays at your feet. It is quiet.
The forest squeaks and vibrates around you, and a gentle-yet freezing gust of wind makes you pull the scarf tighter. Silence. Around you. In you. You catch the looks of your companion and you know you both think the same idea. Coffee and apple pie, somewhere in that village, wearing comfy socks, with your back leaning on the stove, warming you up.
While you make your way downhill, careful not to lose balance, you snap a few more photos. The flurry has started again, with much more intensity and you find yourself smiling. You have found your smile in the forest and lost your worries. You feel refreshed and that apple pie must be ready by now. You find yourself hastening the pace towards the promise land.
Life is simple. If you’d let it be. Especially in winter. Especially in little villages at the foot of the pine tree hills. All you have to do is breathe in and out with good intentions. A few times, just to let it all out. And especially let it all in.