Friday, March 28, 2014

The Beauty Around Us

A long, narrow, and very straight road
through the Belgian countryside

I'm a city girl at heart; honestly, too much country kind of freaks me out. I thrive when surrounded by the hustle and bustle of urban life while the peaceful serenity of the country is often just too quiet. Stars are beautiful to look at but I need street lights to feel safe. Rational or not, I don't fear the boogie man in the bushes but a feral animal jumping out from behind the trees is enough to give me nightmares. All the more reason we are living in the heart of a city (a small one, but a city none the less) and enjoying it so much. But this being a rather rural part of Belgium, we only have to drive for a few minutes to find ourselves surrounded by rolling green fields, farms, and country life. And some days I rather enjoy getting out and having my dose of rural. Today was one of them.

The calendar says spring and the weather has been inching closer and closer to it with longer days, (We finally switch over to Central European Summer Time this weekend), more sunshine, and warmer temperatures. Today was the quintessential spring day with a crispness to the air that was offset by the warm sun. And it was an awesome day to be outside and out of the city proper. While running errands I did what I find myself doing so often since arriving in Belgium. With time to spare and a new community to explore I turned off my GPS and just drove. While I had a vague sense of the direction I was moving in I slowing drove down country lanes, through hidden hamlets, and along miles and miles of country roads. They were all paved albeit some were covered with cobblestones. With the windows down and the sunroof open I explored the countryside surrounding Mons passing only farmers preparing their fields for the planting season, a lot of grazing cows and a lone rider on horseback.

And as I drove, I realized just how beautiful the world around me was. I've driven around this area often but always on the main highway heading from one destination to another. I know where the speed zones and congestion points are along the way but I never realized what was down all of those narrow side roads. At one point I stopped the car in the middle of the road (after all no one else was around me) and got out to just take in my surroundings. Breathing deeply I took in the fresh (and fertile) air. Standing there miles from anything I realized just how lucky I am to be living here in this corner of the globe. I have the best of both worlds; my urban house with quick and easy access to country when I want it.

But I am now back home, ensconced in my row house listening to car doors slam and the clatter of feet on the sidewalk outside of my window. These are the sounds that are now both familiar and comforting to me. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate the serenity of the country. I do and I enjoy experiencing brief periods of it. And knowing it is so close for those times when I want it is even better. This certainly isn't too shabby of a lifestyle we are living.

Nothing but Belgian countryside for as far as the eye can see

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