The fascination of this place
is not about what there is
but about what is missing.

This is not a cliché.

October 2014

01 October 2014

Autumn, our inner season

A northern wind blows in these unseasonable days. The larches bow in reverence at its passage in a colourful mural of branches and leaves tinged in yellow. What a marvel - vermillion red and yellow-ochre mix beautifully.
We call this wind ‘the pleasant wind’, ‘vënt da sarëgn’. Its southern brother is the ‘vënt da rodus’, not so pleasant in nature. Its entourage follows in its wake, clouds laden with snow, rain, bad weather, but never really horrific. Our thoughts may be shrouded in negativity, but never the weather.
October is the month with a nice wind. It’s a nice season, the ‘inner season’, one which we mistakenly call ‘external season’. It sweeps inside the forests, moving everything, toing and froing in an eternal dance. The branches of the firs scratch their neighbours’ bark in a playful game, only interrupted by the occasional drop of pinecones to the ground. Not so for the pine, they jealously guarding their fruits. As children, we used to climb up to the highest reaches of the tress to gather fruits: they hide some juicy nuts, which are nice and crunchy when roasted in a pan, exquisite! I loved the scent of wild resin: I kept munching on them at every chance I always had some in my pocket, carried them around like precious stones. And I still like doing it.
Reels of moments, past and present, playing out on the canvas we call nature. It’s a ticket to our inner door, to nature itself. An occasionally rebellious nature. It‘s heart-breaking when landslides isolate small villages and the mountain deposits destruction in its wake. Just as heart-breaking as the never-ending speed of evolution. Maybe a beauty so perfect, with no scars on its face, would be too much: ‘and to us is negated the idiocy of perfection’ by the extra-ordinary Szymborska. Aristoteles himself said that compassion and fear of tragedy purify us. Everything is part of our world, of our lives. One would not be without the other.
I like these valleys when they are filled with people and movement, but I really love them in seasons bereft of tourists. I can revel in the beauty of the mountain tops, It’s as though I belong to them, to their majestic nature. I see new pictures every day, unexplored nooks and crannies, unheard sounds – unheard because they are not listened to. Or unheard because they are completely new, as I wander in Mother Nature’s bosom.
I am sometimes startled at how fast the images on our TV, YouTube and in tweets can flash by. They have an unsustainable speed, sufficient to express an instantaneous emotion, evanescent, but, of course, insufficient for a long-lasting reflection that may, heaven forbid, seep into our very souls.
Maybe, the real difference between the heart-breaking pictures on TV and the true beauty of nature is not in what we see, but how we see it. Here, on our doorstep, the Sella Group on my left and the Sasslonger in front of me, I can stop, ponder and mull over my thoughts. I can stop and be taken in by things. Images on the social networks. They shake me, with their sheer drama, but it’s only a moment, a vibration, a tremor. I’m not sure if that is good or bad. But I do know something: October spent in the mountains is the antidote to the overexposure of images. It’s the coveted peace we need to balance our lives.
That is how this ‘outer season’ becomes an ‘inner season’. Inside the moment, inside ourselves. All our senses become open and receptive. As the Romans said, living by ‘festina lente’, by rushing slowly. Extolling the virtues of slowness, even if just for a while. We need to step back from the speed at which everything is going, of these wild rhythms of unlimited connectivity, even if only for a bit.
Slowness is not laziness, it’s attention, presence. Slowness in our movements, in our breathing, in speaking, in thinking, in noticing details. Fearless. We need to take care of ourselves, digest mentally to have a protracted sense of feeling.
Let’s step into a slow escape this autumn. Let’s explore this desire of discovering and exploring which is never sated, to the freedom in all of us.
Even for us locals, there comes a time when we head into the mountains, carefully, but without any doubts. We have to set the pace, after all.
I’ve written about slowness. Lucky me, on this blue day, I will soon go to her office, I’ll take her hand and say “Giovanna, let’s go up to Col Alto”.
Happy autumn

Michil Costa

The Berghotel Ladinia is open for the beautiful Autumn, until November 2nd from Wednesday to Sunday