This is the sight that greeted me every morning while I stayed with the Viskys. Most of the books were in Hungarian, of course, and I didn’t even finish the one in English I picked out, but that isn’t the point. The point is that the books were there. Every book was a carefully thought-out idea. There are so many ways to communicate things in words! Of course, there are so many other ways to communicate things, too, but living alone surrounded by a foreign language gives a person such an appreciation of words. Saci and I exchanged so many words, talking about things we noticed, things we wanted, things we loved.
The gardens/yards of Hungarian houses are situated behind the house, not in front. The Viskys’ garden stretched up the hill and sat under the sunshine, just holding flowers and promises of outdoor dinners in the months to come.
These snow drops appeared on the table midweek. Spring showed up, in all its golden light, the very day I began my trip, and all of us in the Visky house could feel it coming in through the sometimes-open window. The snow drops were the first flowers to appear. But the best part about them was that there wasn’t actually any snow.
Lunch time = whenever most of the family returns from the day’s meanderings. Whenever Dora and Bence get back from school, when Anna gets back from the bookshop and András gets back from the university, when Saci stops running her errands, when Andris pauses between theatre trips … sometimes that meant 1pm and sometimes that meant 5pm. The number around the table was never consistent, but somehow that didn’t makes things seem harried or busy. Maybe that’s because my own mornings were spent quietly – sleeping in as late as I needed, reading, writing, planning a lesson for the Montessori school. It was nice to not worry about scheduled eating times (everything has a specific time at a boarding school) and to be able to really converse with others around the table (the whole family speaks English). With no set time, lunch time stretched before and after the actual meal to encompass conversations about dreams and hopes and fears, quiet cups of tea, food chopping for the next meal, comings and goings of family members, or just silence between me and this solid wooden table.
Saci and I ran all kinds of deliciously non-urgent errands during my stay. A trip to a book shop. (Actually lots of trips to bookshops.) A walk downtown. Shopping for broccoli (green things are so GOOD!). And a drive to the woods in the surrounding hills to find wildflowers. We had seen so many crocuses in Mănăstireni that we were sure there would be some forest flowers reaching up under the trees. We drove for miles outside of Cluj, and while we were greeted by long strands of lovely beech trees and wide vistas of valleys and coming storm clouds, we could not find flowers. There was only one patch of purple I noticed early on, and finally, deep into the sheep-pasture mountains, Saci and I decided to turn around and go back to them. The storm we had noticed came upon us quickly, and we found ourselves standing in the center of a beech wood with wind whipping up the side of the mountain and dark, dark clouds bringing dusk in early, picky swaths of the purple flowers from the windblown leaves and feeling the first cold drops of the storm.