I’m really fortunate that my family owns a little chalet in the French Lorraine region, a forlorn place in the middle of a large forest dotted with ruins, lakes and countless wild blueberry bushes. Before you think I’m rather posh, growing up at the German-French boarder does have it’s perks. My grandad built the house in the 50s on what used to be a potatoe field during WWII and it remained unchanged until the 2000s when my parents installed electricity and even wifi. I spend the summers of my childhood here, as well as countless weekends. I fondly remember chasing fire flies through the ferns on summer nights, the parties with friends in my late teens and twenties and every year come back to see my parents.
I love this place with all my heart. Here, you can experience true solitude. Mixed in with the underlying fear of getting attacked by wild boars of course but some things require sacrifices. Of all the places Iived, this one is the one I would consider most home. It’s always drawn me back here. I cannot remember any bad times. I will always associate it with something good. My children love this place as much as I do and are always looking forward to being here. They are the fourth generation to go for walks in the woods, looking for mushrooms, swimming in the lakes, making fires and watching the stars in one of the clearest night skies you’ve ever seen. There is a little cafe in a town nearby and it has become tradition that I take my kids, one on each day so they get to spend time with just me, for some pastries. I love French patisserie and so do they. And we get to chat. Not about changing the world, but what moves theirs. I love this time, it’s entirely removed from the rest of our lives.
This year, my dad mentioned for the first time that at some point in the future they might sell the place. It’s an old house, full of flaws and it needs looking after on a regular basis. A little like my parents really. The thought of loosing this piece of my life – on both counts – scares me to death. Whilst I know one of those is inevitable, albeit I hope a long time in the future, the other is not. And I am determined to preserve this place for my children and grandchildren. I hope they will follow me in my determination so that even more generations of my family can enjoy this place even when I’m long gone.