A Windy Road to Switzerland

May 2, 2014 | As told by Lou from , .

When I was in the sixth grade, every day on my way to school I’d sneak into my neighbor’s yard and pick loquats from his loquat tree. Hidden between dark green leaves, I’d take as many as I could carry and run. I suppose it’s fair to say I was stealing them, but they were big as limes, a deep orange, bruised just enough to know each bite will present insurmountable satisfaction (and they never failed me, not once). Shessek they’re called in my native tongue. Unwashed, I would eat them on my daily walk, sticky juice dripping down my hand. Each orange globe had three slimy pits in the middle, smooth like river rocks, dark like the earth from which they sprung forth.

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When I finished the sixth grade I forgot all about my loquats on the neighbor’s tree, the daily rush of stealing them, the quiet moments I spent squeezing their pits as hard as I could. I packed this memory away neatly, folded each corner like an old blanket and placed it in a small box in the far corner of the attic.

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Fast forward fifteen years to a late morning walk in Florida with David, Uncle Larry, and a sweet but anxious dog named Sammy. As the sun makes its usual climb and my Ukrainian skin begins to crisp, we talk about houses, and rivers, and boats, and alligators.

And then: “I have to show you a tree!” Uncle Larry remembers. To my great surprise when I sent my gaze in the direction he was pointing, there stood a small but formidable loquat tree. Now, these were a different breed than the ones from all those years past, but loquats nonetheless! Memory quickly washing over me, oh how I wished for those plump, sweet loquats of my youth.

Fast forward again two and a half months and David and I are driving a semi-automatic, gurgling Peugeot on a road trip from Annecy, France to Greyères, Switzerland. David’s driving because when I tried to drive this evil car, with its strange sounds and unpredictable European transmission, I was possessed by such hysteria I confessed all my sins (and more), and asked for nothing but forgiveness (though my loquat theft did not require absolution).

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We’re driving too fast to photograph the timeless mountains and clear blue water this road unfolds before me. My dismay is audible and unpleasant, and so is the pressure on David’s bladder, and so are the hunger pangs, so we leave the big road and turn onto a little road, which leads into a little village on a big lake with big mountains and big clouds and little boats full of little people in the big water.

At the top of a hill, forgotten by the world, we stumble into a market. Rummaging through the isles for some healthy food, we settled on a ball of Bufala Mozzarella, blueberries, and a five pound bag of organic carrots. As we turn to leave, a heap of vibrant globes catches my eye. There they stood: sunset orange, big as limes, perfectly bruised loquats. Slimy pits and all.

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About the Author | Lou

I love Wissotzky peach tea.

14 Comments
  • Adrienne

    May 2, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    There was a loquat tree in our neighbors yard and I used to eat them all the time. Loved them. Would luv one now.

    Reply
    • Lou

      May 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks Adrienne! Did the neighbor know you were eating them? ;) Hopefully we can find some in London. I think they’re very much in season right now and hopefully all over Europe!

      Reply
      • Dorie

        June 25, 2016 at 1:12 am

        The exteprise shines through. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

  • Marina

    May 3, 2014 at 2:42 am

    I laughed so hard when read about the sins and forgiveness! You writing is beyond amazing! (even I, who is very impatient with descriptive writing, was fully taken in by your story). The photographs are incredible too! The whole thing is sooooooo alive!!! Thank you or sharing your beautiful creative gifts with us!

    Reply
    • Lou

      May 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Thank you! :)

      Reply
  • Monique

    May 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Lovely. It is so wonderful when we get those amazing affirmations that we are where we are supposed to be. Your little loquats have followed you around the world, through time to nod hello. Perfect.

    Reply
    • Lou

      May 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks Monique! They’ve kept following me since, too lol. It feels like there a loquat tree around every corner here in Lisbon, and they’re all full to the brim!

      Reply
      • Caden

        June 25, 2016 at 1:30 am

        What a pleasure to find someone who ideteifins the issues so clearly

  • Marina

    May 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I just had this idea to start a movement “You live you”! As you are doing it already, and it’s so inspiring, I thought people may want to join you with their actions of daring to be themselves. Even a small thing would matter, as that is how it begins! I thought it could be great if you could make a separate page on this blog where people could submit short stories about how “they live themselves” and inspire each other to follow their heart desires through comments. Also, I would like a poster with “You live you” to put on my car or a T shirt with this message!

    Reply
  • Marlene Lewis

    May 4, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Loved reading this, Lou Lou! The part about putting the memories away in the attic was perfect. They come out at the most interesting moments! Pictures are amazing.

    Reply
    • Lou

      May 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Aunt Marlene! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  • Larry

    May 4, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Lou, I can’t add much to the previous comments about how incredible your writing is. Thank you for honoring me with this incredible post. I will have our loquat encounter in Fort Lauderdale as one of those hilarious and disappointing memories not easily tucked away. Your trip so far seems like a wonderland. Thanks for sharing the experience in such a beautiful way.

    Reply
    • Lorena

      June 25, 2016 at 1:56 am

      You’ve really captured all the esatenisls in this subject area, haven’t you?

      Reply
  • Pepper

    June 25, 2016 at 1:58 am

    I was really confused, and this answered all my quoseitns.

    Reply
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