Saturday, 14 December 2013

Winter Sun

'Mummy, don't be afraid, flying is fun.'

And when I looked out of the window, down below seemed very, very far down indeed; shades of weak tea brown, white spots, threaded black lines. Over a Spanish mountain range I thought I saw a giant alligator etched in its peaks. Shapes in the earth, not in the clouds. I was nervous. Over an hour in I was still wearing the seat belt. This was my first flight since the honeymoon. It didn't matter then, it was just Younger Dad and me. Now there was Little A to consider; all week I'd worried about the plane crashing, that sequence from Flight on auto replay, over and over. I couldn't be sure if the pilot steering our plane - flight something, something, something, bound for Lanzarote - had the same skills as Denzel Washington.

How would I save Little A?

And I wasn't ready to die. My novel wasn't finished, not even the first draft.  

On the toilet, the plane hit turbulence; one hand clung to the sink, an elbow propped against the opposite wall. Balanced. Just. I couldn't concentrate, that annoying ping-pong sound and red - red for danger - image of the seat belt sign.

I returned to my seat shaken. Certainly not soothed.

'Don't worry Mummy, it's just a bit bumpy.'

And if in panic, boiled travel sweets are the best remedy by far. Half the tin had disappeared by the time the plane circled over the volcanic land of seal skin grey. Welcome to Espana.

Lanzarote is made for moon people. If you took a small jump, you might float in the air, weightless. The villages - tightly clustered, their low lying white buildings brightly off set by their dark, arid surroundings - like the out postings of an interplanetary mission. There is an other worldly beauty and grace here, empty of complication, naked, a severity of truth.

We stayed on the blustery north east coast in an eco retreat, a finca, consisting of varying sized yurts and villas. Ours was a family villa originally converted from an old water tank. The lounge housed the most ornate day bed. In fact, throughout the entire property such exquisite detail had been paid to all the decoration and furniture. There was a donkey called Molly, and well over a dozen chickens, their fresh egg yolks like baby suns.  

I didn't write. Instead, I read, flopped in the sunshine, enjoying the simplicity of words, or I spent precious time with my family, burying our feet in cool, wet sand, splashing about in the water with Little A. The temperature was perfect, like an English summer's day; it was the end of November, winter, and the time of year didn't seem real. On the afternoon of my birthday, we paid a visit to a Cactus Garden set in a circular walled enclosure. Hundreds of varieties. Aliens. Unsure of the prickles, Little A admired the various forms and shapes and colours, 'that one's furry Mummy, a silly furry cactus.'

It was an easy holiday. We woke up late, spent most mornings in our pyjamas, the odd morning scrambling a bag of essentials together for a spot of sight seeing; the Timanfaya National Park was a favourite, Little A's face pressed against the window, jaw dropped, 'WOWSERS, look at the volcanoes Mummy and Daddy, they're AMAZING.'

The afternoon's were enjoyed either on a beach - not all the sand was midnight black - or by the pool side back at the finca,Younger Dad, his teeth clenched, taught Little A how to swim in the not so solar heated water. I rediscovered the art of deep relaxation; a reflexology session and a yoga class kissed my worries away. I had forgotten, had become addicted to the tension held in every sinew and muscle. My body sighed with the release, the relief. And I remembered.

On the return flight home, I was too relaxed to care about dying.

And in the fortnight after we'd arrived home, I revived my yoga practise with gusto, and bought Little A her own mat, and DVD.

Breathe In. Breathe out...

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