The nights bring rain – at times very heavy. Daytime showers are brief, followed by brilliant sunshine. Almost like being out at sea.
But thankfully the sun has been shining more often than not since my arrival in Langeland, off the coast of southeastern Funen in Denmark. A welcome change from the heavy rain and flooding the residents of this lovely island have weathered this summer. Low-lying and endowed with rich earth for farming and many kilometers of coastline for fishing, it is attached to mainland Fyn by a series of three bridges. Along the roads, between fields of golden wheat and small patches of woodlands, storybook villages, clusters of brick and half-timbered houses hug the narrow roads, late summer roses still blooming brightly in tiny pocket gardens. And for the moment – fields that have turned to ponds. The rain – an occasional inconvenience for me – has been a crisis for farmers trying to harvest grain. The sunshine and coastal breezes have helped dry the fields – tractors pulling wagons filled to the brim with harvested wheat pass by regularly throughout the day and night.
I am here for a month in my mother’s homeland, and for a little while – a close neighbor to my beloved Danish family. A dream come true, peppered with the reality of travel and work, and of navigating the day-to-day in a new place. Langeland’s riches go far beyond farming and fishing – with art parks, castles, art towers and nature trails dotting the landscape. With bustling sailing harbors, vacation villages and a small town – now famous for the setting of a recent academy award-winning film. With old flour-mills and modern wind-mills on the horizon. And rustic, tiny farm stands at the end of gravel driveways, overflowing with the harvest from back-yard vegetable plots and fruit orchards. An old tradition and culture of self-serve/self-pay roadside stands is still active and thriving, and offers the best grocery shopping. A constantly changing array of produce and home-made products usually dictates the menu for the day. The current crop of tiny new potatoes – with their thin skins, and buttery, melt in your mouth flavor – top the list of favorites at the moment. With the farm-fresh eggs, raspberries, pears, jams, newly spun honey and smoked salt vying for top spot. But it is our friendly and generous neighbors, our hosts, dear family and new friends – who come by bearing gifts of orchard fruits from their own gardens and just-baked rolls from their kitchens, who invite us in to share meals around their tables – that have been the best gift of all.
The day is beckoning – time to step out into the sunshine. With wellies on my feet and an umbrella in hand. And with thoughts of my devastated, flood-torn Vermont, I am keeping family and friends close, while so far away.