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  • Writer's pictureCiara

#MeditationMonth: A Happy Place

This meditation is adapted from a short story I wrote in 2010 based on a small village in the northern part of Switzerland. You'll find fewer breathing prompts in this excerpt, but I recommend reading at a natural, calm pace, using language cues and punctuation to pause, contemplate and breathe during this visualization as the person strolling through these village paths. I hope you can enjoy traveling with me just for a few minutes to this Happy Place.

First I get my bearings in a district named Bülach, in a town called Rafz, bordering Eglisau. It's a quiet, little productive village. The quilted patches of farmland stretch to an ebb of houses. The houses are in various sizes but each on white with a brown or brick-colored roof. Beyond, trees start climbing the smaller hills. On a clear day, one can see the vivid Alps in the distance.

Rafz is covered by one large green, brown and dark beige quilt. It is summer, however, and most of the patches are vibrant greens. Looking closer at each detail, most of the tilled squares are evenly filled with sunflowers. Most stalks are over six feet tall and each sunflower is about the size of your hand spread wide. As I walk, I see some of the sunflowers have happy faces carved out from the lost seeds. A simple reminder of how friendly everyone is here.

In the barns and the storehouses, there's plenty of farm implements. But as the days and weeks pass, they never stir. Yet, somehow, by sundown, by harvest, the work is done.

I walk a little toward the houses and an old woman with a blue coat emerges, riding a bicycle. "Gruezti!" she smiles. Everyone greets each other here. In the basket of her bicycle, there is a canvas bag filled with the season's products. She's just come from the gnossi, or village market.

The path I take to the gnossi is simple yet winding. I cross the narrow street on a neatly painted crosswalk, although there are hardly any cars passing through in this quiet town. As I continue on the other side of the street, I walk alongside a brown picket fence. Soon the fence turns into a hedge. I can hear some children playing fusseball on the other side. Turning rechts, right, I note a quaint flower garden. A uniform border of red and yellow frames a purple flowering plant. It's neatly and methodically planted. In one corner there is a holunder, elderberry bush. The gardener will make preserves with them in a few weeks.

Next, I come upon a small, but in this town, a large intersection. A tall tree is the focal point of the four-way stop. Standing tall like a giant topiary, it's slender stem of a trunk reaches to the top of a three-story house then expands into a green bulb. The house is white, like most of the others, but has brilliant yellow shutters. On the third floor, they are closed, but the lower two floors are inviting in the sunlight.

Near the top of the house on one side there is a sundial. It's ten o'clock. In the distance I can hear two different church bells simultaneously calling out the hour. One from each neighboring village. Each peacefully calls out ten chimes, I hear some small echoes, then quiet once again.

I continue on my journey, entering between two houses on a narrow footpath. There are no forks in the pathway so I follow it through, like a current. It takes me past the two houses into somewhat of a courtyard of secret gardens. Each of the six surrounding houses has its own sectioned off garden plot. As I walk through, I observe the people intently tending to their gardens. Here is the only space where I actually see people doing work.

The gardens are cleanly planted with smaller trees and hedges in the corners of the lots and flowers and vegetable gardens in their centers. The gardens have their own small pathways that each gardener adeptly travels along, enabling them to easily reach their vegetation.

I exit the pathway and come upon a wider, busier street lined with small shops and quaint restaurants. Unique signs hang out from the buildings. Each one has an emblem with words above or below. Some of the restaurants have lanterns that will later be lit when they are serving dinner.

Crossing the road, I notice a cheese shop. On the sidewalk, there's a sign with Chäschüchli scratched out in chalky letters, advertising a tasty treat.

I pass between the cheese shop and a restaurant and reach the next street over. Crossing, I've now reached the gnossi. It shares a large corner with a fountain. An oasis in a desert of farmland. There's a group of young children sitting on the edge of the fountain, their bikes lying nearby.

I step into the store and find the produce section. Picking up a bundle of zwetschgen, Italian plums, I proceeded to the counter. The total comes to 3.95 Swiss francs. I give the grocer four and get my change.

Exiting the gnossi, I find that the children have gone. I sit on the edge of the fountain and start to eat one of the zwetschgen. I have the 5 rappen coin in my pocket, but there's no need to throw it in the fountain. I'm already here.


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