There are two giant Japanese Camellia trees growing right next to the terrace adjacent to our bedroom. I never knew they could grow this tall. Their branches reach to the chateau’s roof level, heavy with lush crimson flowers. I like chilling here with my journal, letting the imagination run wild - who planted these camellias and for whom? Who had their first kiss in their shade & was it the delicious ‘against-the-rules’ type of kiss? It used to be somebody’s favourite reading spot. What did they read? What were the things they dreamed about, lulled by the constant buzz of bees attracted to the sweet perfume of camellia blossoms?
And every now and then, either by a gentle touch of afternoon breeze, a slow and steady work of gravity or some divine design, a flower falls down. And then another. Nature’s perfect sacred geometry design of petals all of a sudden disintegrates as they snow down, making the tiniest noise. Like a last whispered goodbye to the tree and the bees, before they meet again come spring next year. I’ve read about a Chinese principal called Wu Wei - a wise strategic non-activity, drawing inspiration and wisdom from slow purposeful rhythms of nature. I think this must be it.
The opposite of Wu Wei would be a kid’s breakfast time. There’s only a handful of things I can face before my first cup of coffee, but blowing bubbles with these two little humans is definitely one of them. I’ll miss watching them discovering the world they’ve been born into, and re-discovering it through their eyes. I’ll miss watching them adapting to a life at a castle, life in France in general, at such an impressive rate, far superior to us grownups. Arthur is like a Victorian gentleman locked in a body of a six year old. I already miss our conversations, as I suspected many times he might have been sent to us adults to teach us thinking outside the box. Just the other day, he’s been helping me with digging up some stones in flower beds, he stopped for a moment, looking up at the sky.
‘Yes, Arthur?’ - the usual start of our erudite discussions, a bit of a secret handshake type of thing.
‘How would we know that we’re not in fact all living inside a giant worm?’
‘Hmmm, good question, Arthur. I suppose we’d never know for sure.’
He thinks for a moment.
‘What if we shoot at the sky?’
Digging up random treasures is not only limited to conversations with munchkins. Perhaps as a token of gratitude for the care we offer it, the chateau gives out little nuggets on a daily basis.
A salamander hibernating under a pile of old terracotta tiles. And a green whip snake hiding in the brambles - a fierce and angry creature. A slightly more pleasant find - a single lily of the valley flower underneath an old dried pile of horse poop. They are all teachable moments I think...you can come out perfectly untouched and smelling divine, even if you grow up in a pile of shit. There was a little flower design someone scratched into the wall in the castle’s attic, that only came back to light after we stripped seventy years old wallpapers. A beautiful lantern with hummingbirds on it sitting & waiting in a corner of an abandoned cellar, together with some old war photograph from the forties in a box originally used for explosives.
Castle mysteries stretch in between the physical to META physical. And because Emma is highly spiritually gifted, we get to brainstorm about the latter when kids are not around. I’ll miss sharing a glass (or five) of wine and talking ghosts, reiki, tarot and just about everything else in this world and the next. We’d do really well hosting a podcast together, there really is no way of shutting us up.
I’ll miss saying good morning to all the castle animals. I’ll miss them being difficult and all of us humans commiserating on that, but loving them anyway. The randomness of nature’s storylines and timing. Like the other night. We sneaked out on the terrace for a midnight CBD smoke and kept hearing one of the goats belting out strangled cries that reverberated against the castle walls and quite frankly gave one goosebumps. Even though sleepy and tired and absolutely not in a mood to put on clothes and walk into the cold wet night, we grabbed our head torch (because yes, we’re now people who own and use a head torch!) and went to check it out. Turned out two of the adult goats managed to braid their long chains together to the point that Snowflake was being strangled and having her leg bent out of shape with every attempt of the other goat to pull herself free. You can stop holding your breath - Snowflake is fine. Even though she’s been totally traumatized and so were we. I’ll miss the fact that here, you’re not in charge of the story. You’re just navigating the forever-unfolding storyline, trying to answer every new want & need of the castle itself, and rise up to every new challenge that manifests along the way.
Ever since we ditched our safe corporate London lives, generating money got replaced by generating moments. It’s still a fulltime job - trying to keep alive in this new slow, peaceful & mindful world of our creation, but boy, does it feel so much more meaningful than a paycheck of any size!
Life at the castle is hard work. No real time and space for playing hard. You just work hard, eat hard, but time seems to flow differently here. Of course, since time is relative, it’s just your mind vibing on a different frequency, making it seem like the hours trickle by on a different pace, giving the world around a hipster insta filter type of look, with slow, delicious, earthy & smokey flavour. And then another camellia flower whispers down from the tree. It’s the moment you realise you’ve been living in your own Ghibli anime. And that I will miss.