It is funny, how a brain can forget. Those times of pure happiness, when we were little, we push them away. And it is only after years that something causes us to recall the images from our childhood. Yesterday it happened to me. After I had put my book away and lay in the dark, waiting for the sleep to come, those images suddenly became very vivid.
From the little holiday house I remember to our relatives’ house it was a walk of only about two minutes. And yet it was superior, the whitewashed house with the wooden upper story. It stood like a ship on an exposed rock, and when it rained, it truly felt like being on a ship. It’s interesting; I remember the place best in the rain.
The rain would pour down and I would sit comfortably on a cushioned bench on the right end of the balcony; a glass pane protected me to the right, and to the front – well, I simply didn’t go too close. I watched the fog mix with the lake, and when the rain fell denser and denser, the world around me was finally just gray and wet and fascinating. But I was safe, on board the house, and very cozy.
When the weather was good, it was beautiful, too. We would watch sailboats on the lake, close to the opposite shore, and behind them, in town, we saw trains squeezing in-between houses and through narrow space. As the trains pursued their journey along the lake, we could follow them with our eyes until, after four or five minutes, they went out of sight, into a valley.
On sunny days we searched the basement of our relatives’ house for the oars to my mother’s old rowboat. The basement had little shafts for light and air in front of its windows and we always tried to rescue frogs when they dropped in there. Some of them were dead when we found them.
We would drag the old boat into the lake and go across patches of algae, toward a place where children played in the shallow water, and if they wanted, we’d take them for a ride. Sometimes we couldn’t help it and disappeared, keel first, into the reed. Or we would simply tie the boat and fight a mud battle. The bottom of the lake was very muddy there.
From time to time we undertook the adventure of going all the way across the lake. Who can do it in half an hour? We would pass packs of swans and, when we approached the dock, shout “ahoi” to the tourists. When they looked curiously, we were proud and felt like real sailors.
We could also walk to the other side of the lake; there was a path that led through the reed. There were four bridges on the way, and the water underneath them was deep and flowed very fast.
Another time, when I stayed in the house alone, a cousin played a trick on me and locked the door from the outside. I opened a window on the upper floor (for the lower level contained farming machinery and had only a few tiny windows), jumped out and broke nothing. And I found a snakeskin in a hole. I think I was a very happy child.