Gap Semester

The Mountains Are Calling

Since my last post, I have had quite a few changes in scenery. Following the Happy Faces staff trip to Doda Pilii, a group of us stayed in the university town of Cluj-Napoca for a few days, with our numbers dwindling rapidly as everyone took off to various corners of the globe.

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Rather unexpectedly, I was presented with the opportunity to head back into the Apuseni mountains for the weekend to work on an organic ranch, and on a whim I decided to go.

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Sometimes life has a beautiful way of showing us what we need by putting people and places in our path that have a profound effect on our entire way of thinking. Though I learned a lot from those around me at camp, I was primarily playing the role of the teacher for over a month, and as a result I was more than ready to act as a student again, and my time at the Organic Art Ranch provided me the opportunity to do just that whilst fully immersed in mountain life.

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As a result of my spontaneous decision, I had many new experiences: sleeping under the stars in a hammock, pitching hay into the barn of an old Romanian farmer, playing a didgeridoo, using a dry-compost toilet, cooking in a cauldron over an open fire, hitchhiking, the uses of different plants and herbs, and many more. I learned a great deal, but there is so much I still want to know.

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As I write this, it is the eve of the autumn equinox, a time when night and day are balanced yet the seasons are in flux. I find myself in a similar sort of dynamic equilibrium, a bittersweet time of change, of leaves falling and friends leaving.

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I have been surrounded by so many amazing people, some I’ve known for over a month, some for little over 24 hours. I have grown incredibly close to some and said fond farewells to most. Over the weekend we shared work, food, and laughter, and letting go is difficult. One of the hardest parts of traveling is falling in love with people and places, and having to say goodbye over and over again.

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But travel also brings the opportunity to meet new people and discover new places, to refresh the spirit with a constant flow of change. Though I’ve parted ways with close friends, I am also in the process of creating new connections – a cycle that brings so many people into my life story.

making zacusca, a traditional winter spread of pepper, onion, and eggplant
making zacusca, a traditional winter spread of pepper, onion, and eggplant

Everyone I’ve met has left their mark, taught me something, and given me the gift of their presence, in whatever way, shape or form. I can only hope that I’ve done the same, and that the cycle continues wherever the wind takes me.

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On that note: Happy Equinox! Remember to embrace change, crunch on leaves, take care of yourself, and be grateful for the bounty surrounding you – be it the fall harvest, pets, family and friends, or what have you.

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Sending much love to YOU, dear reader!

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xoxo,

Susan

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