Reflections on the farm in Ravna Rijeka, Montenegro
I woke up just after 7, the morning fog still hanging over the not-so-distant mountains. A rooster crows, a dog barks, the constant soundtrack in this verdant environ. I crack open the bathroom window to find three cows grazing in the yard next door. Per Dimitrije's suggestion, I drag a kitchen chair out to the balcony of the one-and-a-half-story farmhouse (in which I was the sole occupant) to sit and breathe in the damp air. Back in the city, I would have been one of the first people awake, reveling in the empty streets and freshly watered-down sidewalks. But on the farm, Svetlana's two sons are already up and out in the pasture, herding the cows to wherever.
I glance to the garden below where 20 kilograms of potatoes were still only buds on the ground. In a few months, Dimitrije told me, they will be in bloom, along with tomatoes and leafy greens, as will the two neighboring trees with apples and avocados. "Normally avocados do not grow up here in the mountains, only down by the sea," Dimitrije told me the afternoon I arrived on the farm, "but we are lucky with this tree."
While I was sampling Svetlana's homemade dinner the night before, Dimitrije's sister Nina asked me if I meditate. I replied that I had attempted the practice a few times, but that it can be difficult for me to get in the right headspace. However, in this morning, sitting on this balcony in absolutely silence, I think I could give it a go.
Nina walks one hour to work every day, and one hour home. She works in economics and accounting, but she loves to write and has started her own blog. As long as I have been a writer, she is the first person to ask me this question: "When you are writing, what does it make you feel?" I am caught off guard by this query, one that really forces me to think. Unlike with other standard questions such as, "What are you doing in Barcelona?" and "How long do you plan to be in Spain?", I don't have a rehearsed, boilerplate response for Nina. Instead I sat there, snacking on Svetlana's homemade bread, with two young-but-grown Montenegrins who I feel like I've known for years. And I'm stumped.
"I don't know," I muttered. "I just love it. It doesn't feel like work to me." Nina smiles and her eyes widen. "That is so good. We should all do something that we love."
Nina, Dimitrije, and I come from very different backgrounds, but as humans, we're not so different. We have big dreams for ourselves: Nina to write, Dimitrije to renovate a 100-year-old house higher up on this same hill, and the both of them, to travel. Today, May 21, is Montenegro's 11th anniversary of independence. And the three of us have much to celebrate.