Countryside spirit. SOIL I

Countryside spirit. SOIL I

Illusive brass hues, agleam in phantasmagorical woods, filaments sprouting to light. Liquid breaths, airy dews—desires stirred by whiffs from the fields. Merry daisies captured on canvas in immaculate expectation, dense carpets of grasses to pacify souls, rootstocks turned colorless with secret yearnings, slender stalks longing for fretful marine waves …

This rustling chorus chants to Mim, dizzying her with aromas, cool, bitter-sweet, her fantasy swaying to skylines that suck her mind into awe’s giant wheel. Mim enters her canvases through dilated, stunned pupils. As much as they tell her spellbinding stories, they fascinate others—the miracle of her paintings, brimming with thriving life, issuing incessant murmuring from the wild’s core.

Mim’s debut exhibition at the Municipal Arts Center was a sheer success. How otherwise when the artist loses herself in her own creations? Total absorption excludes eating, postpones sleeping, puts real living on hold.

Countryside school

Critics, local and national, wanted to meet the painter in person—where has she been hiding? Scarce did they know Mim commuted to the countryside daily, where she hid in a school forever frigid and damp. Horrendous in winter, when fur cap and coat on, Mim dared remove her gloves only to handle the paintbrush. Mim pitied the kids too, whose hands coarsened with laboring aged so early. Their boorish gestures and yelling, their uncouth demeanor and unskillful fingers depressed Mim, though sometimes, their reluctance numbed, they enjoyed playing with slender brushes and viscous paints.

The older students, smug youths, sneered and sniggered, elbow nudged one another, or slung words that hardly made sense. The high school classes were held in two enormous halls of a detached building, where their voices resonated times louder, stentorian iciness, when the clamor banged on Siberian walls.

Mim guided them out of bleakness, to whatever was valuable in each one, but had a sense of absolute helplessness. More so when teacher and students strove to keep in check their teeth’s violent clattering and stomped feet in a monotonous drill. The children’s fingers, reddened and numb, and their huddled-up souls were in disharmony with painting strokes.

Lost countryside spirit

Instead of the country’s passionate essence, Mim encountered an amorphous apathy wall. Nothing evoking memories from her childhood, when Mim ranged across enchanting regions with her folks every summer.

They hiked on mountains and over hills, climbed past waterfalls in the woods’ heart, visited monasteries, or rowed on lakes that locked legends beneath mirror surfaces. The family trod paths strewn with love and hospitality that Mother Nature sprinkled upon homes and locals. To Mim, the realm’s spirit revealed itself in their eyes and gait, in the chapped hands that painted façades sunny blue or planted roses and dahlias outside gates.

Natives spoke a tongue as sweet as the land they inhabited. What frolicsome footpaths and lanes, what fairy-tale abodes lining them, only to lavish on visitors endearing whisperings. And suites of flowers cheered both dweller and traveler.

Mim loved the simple, upright, wholesome locals, legend tellers and dance stampers. The kid figured peasants called their yards bataturi—dance-trodden earth—because they loved fervid round dancing. Oh, the well-scrubbed, law-abiding peasants who glanced in the distance over valleys and hills, tending earnestly to the livestock in barns and the crops in the fields.

But what fabulous forests that crept into children’s ears transient scraps of secrets. Birds chirping tuned into the chorus of light that sieved through dusky-green canopies, reaching for ancient roots’ moisture. Brisk water springs and brooks running along with primeval tales … Where is the cleanliness of foretime? Or was it her child’s unspoiled sensors?


Mim misses the traditional farmstead of the Baragan plains. She sampled one only, but its spirit did not leave her. Barren yard, battered earth, a tree stock, leafless, with limbs chopped to stubs for the poultry to perch. A squat mud-brick hut painted in stark azure, spotless and cool inside, a boon against the sweltering heat. Wide floorboards coated in amaranth and walls covered in hand-woven rugs, shaken clean every morning against the solitary trunk in the yard.

The wooden bunk, bulgy and high, absurd in contrast with its narrowness, priding on plump pillows in starched white linen cases. And the colorful zappy bedspread woven by the wife on the loom, with pure wool thread her fingers spun from fleeces of sheep shepherds steered to graze on bogs by the great river, on vast moorlands up north, on fat grasslands at the bottom of mountains.

Mim leans forward, as though longing to join that Arcadian idyll, with wives bent over weaving looms and husbands waging their daily rudimentary wars. Will she revive the joy this bucolic existence once gave her?

Romanian countryside cottage
Romanian countryside cottage

Breaths of countryside spirit

Mim herself stems from those peasants’ existence and each day she returns from the remote school to immerse herself into painting, avid to reconstruct the lost countryside spirit.

Its faint whimper, Mim picked out while expecting the commuter bus toward evening in summer, when she missed the noon one. The quiet courtyards with plentiful chattels, the lofty poplars, the fruit trees, the pungent odors of livestock that boosted one’s sense of the soil and of what God created to tread it, the sense of one’s yard.

Zesty breezes breathing peace from the fields, the candid gate benches, some chance careless mulberry dropping from its leafy nest with a shy smile … The languid dancing of road dust thirsty for rain, Mim’s thought of God’s water, of soil’s fertile broth, of sprouting and fruiting. Once seated on a rustic wooden bench, Mim could not bring herself to leave it, immersed in contemplation of the balmy tranquility. Yes, that village meant more than the dreary, unwelcoming school classrooms.

Mixed calls

Then how could Mim explain her heart’s wild pounding and the body’s jump in the road when she recognized the approaching bus muzzle in the distance? The euphoria of victory she tried daily when the vehicle transporting her entered town? She celebrated the fabled hearth. Her household fire burned where Mom cooked the meals and laid dinner for her. And where Dad shook out smiles as welcome, inviting Mim with his eyes—step in, Daddy’s dear, to bless our home. Her father adored his wife and children.

Mim’s each day’s immediate purpose, from the minute she exited home, was to return to her canvases. She often felt wretched beyond description, cast on the world’s outskirts, trudging through dust or powdery snow, chilled to the marrow, unable to discern the least sign of movement on the roadway. Mim reflected on her wasted existence, on what she could have achieved had she chosen to live beside Stefan instead of reliving her love story with Anton. She traded the theater milieu, offered her on a silver platter, for depicting her loony love on canvas, concealed in her bower near the sky.

Countryside vastness

Stefan strode on her heels, to the riverbank, the rail station, her parents’ town. Mom said he asked them, nonplussed: “What’s wrong with me? Why is Mim running away from me?” She ambled in the footsteps of Mim and Anton as they once were. Along the quay, over the gentle greenness across, over the tame hills where his town stood, on alleys where they once reveled, on the sunny gravel around the lighthouse, to the ferry pier, along slanting avenues and the margin of freeways.

Mim retreated to that faraway rural place, amidst populations of grasses spread on boundless fields as far as the seashore, where she drew inspiration, searching at leisure for earth’s scents, for the wild lowlands’ spices and rustle. A verdant vastness where to plant and grow raving love and let it loose to reach Anton.

“Stefan, I can’t accept the theater job. I’ll teach in that village.” Stefan understood. Let go of her. He has never so much as given Mim a phone call ever since, nothing. Comprehension cut through him like a sharp blade.

. . .

From Soil, Chapter 21 of Traveling True: A Sensual Novel, published in 2017.

About the author

Solar Writer walking on the dark side to bring mind's secrets to light, in romances with a psychological edge. Next Woman blogger showing you how to use the power of SELF to stay young, confident and magnetic.