Birthday celebrations: Thalz turns 18

My birthday was celebrated this year over two days, in two parts, as an ending to the age of 17 (the one that has restrained me so often.) and a welcoming to 18. (The only downside being that I’ll no longer receive the shocked “you’re only 17!?” Which is sometimes quite fun.)

We began the 20th of June in Switzerland and set off to hike up to Aescher cliff for lunch. A friend from Germany met us and up we went, a pit stop at a lake in the mountains, another for trail mix and cookies.

Lake seealpse on the way up to Aescher cliff
Lake seealpse on the way up to Aescher cliff

 

I’ve come to love the feeling of taking a step up and feeling as though your leg could propel you up into the heavens. Like its power is supernatural. This was happening and my mood was rising in proportion to the rising altitude.

It went all too quickly and we found ourselves at the restaurant on the cliff before I was hungry- until I smelt the food, these huge crunchy potato hash browns and fresh salad. Paragliders flew up and past the restaurant, reminding me and exciting me for my birthday present. (a paragliding course.)

Aescher cliff restaurant was incredible
Aescher cliff restaurant was incredible

We chatted with fellow hikers- kind locals who do this walk often- before continuing up to the final point of our climb. Wandering through a cave the air clung to my skin, a layer of icicles.

This type of air always was energising, leaving me to run up with an odd gait, my knees abnormally high with every step. All a mission for warmth, combined with an outburst of energy desperate to be used.

And we arrived, looking over what feelt like all the lands. Land to cover, depressions and impressions to wander in and over, air to fly through.

The day ends in Germany, bathing in thermal mineral baths, sipping up some of the best mojitos I’ve had and demolishing far too much Thai.

“This is my birthday day.” I announced, because it was everything I’d wanted.

The next day, far from Australia and familiarities, my parents fell into my bedroom to wake me “happy birthday!” And home was brought to me. Cards from my grandmas we’re presented, alongside a coffee.

mum and I at fête de la musique Strasbourg
mum and I at fête de la musique Strasbourg
Mum wanting photos of Dad and I when we just want dinner
Mum wanting photos of Dad and I when we just want dinner

We were headed to Strasbourg, back to France to join in on their celebrations for ‘la fête de la musique,’ (or rather, everyone in France joined in on my birthday celebrations by filling the streets with music.)

The main squares held big acts, stages, lights and crowds. Along the streets were marching bands, Zumba and capoeira displays, American Indian folk music, young musicians encircled with young fans, DJs met by dancing crowds…

In a backstreet we stumbled into what felt like an intimate affair, kind of impromptu jazz and hip hop. A guy danced up to us, signalling to take some shakers.

Place Kléber watching Thomas Dutronc
Place Kléber watching Thomas Dutronc

I received birthday messages, and a beautiful video, from home which brought me a lot of joy and a little sadness. I met a guy last month who confided he wished to spend his birthday at a remote house in a rice field wth no communication. A good idea perhaps. Still (still! I have heard tales that this battle is around, for some, for life.) I’m in that battle of being where I am, with who I’m with. I can’t say whether or not an isolated rice field would have solved this, but it’s a possibility I didn’t offer myself.

I want to be free now, of these ideas that better things await or that better things are occurring else where. It is true the moments in transit, the moments alone or when things go wrong are not exactly going to leave me singing in the hills. But things are happening, big things, right here! (Maybe a few counties away but that’s where I’m headed!)

I have wandered into the age of 18, and never has an age sounded so sweet. No more hostels that won’t accept me, no more skydiving in Hawaii that I can’t do, no more drinking hiding behind rocks, no more couch surfing I can’t join, no more venues refusing me entry, no more visas I can’t attain.

My parents asked me of my proudest moments up till now, a lot of which fell into the space of these last six months… I’m still filled with fear at the most minute of responsibilities, still overwhelmed so easily.

Thomas Dutronc Strasbourg fête de la musique
Thomas Dutronc Strasbourg fête de la musique

But reflection is a kind thing. Clarity is found in this distance, obstacles passed sit in clear view out on the planes I’ve crossed. Mountains line up before me, ready to be climbed.

Waking up in Hintersee, Austria

Flowers at the mountains base

Today we awoke with next to no plans.

We sat eating breakfast on our phones hoping for something under the search: “things to do near Salzburg” to excite us… We found nothing.

Cities have not given me peace as of late and I had no desire to wander around and take in the ‘top 10 sights’ (though I’m sure they’re thoroughly enjoyable if you’re in the mood or that way inclined.)

Mountains, however, have proven to be very large, very hard to package happy pills, particularly when climbed. And so as the owner of our guest house explained her parents ‘owned a hut in the mountains,’ and ‘yes there is a trail with a nice view,’ and ‘oh you could even have lunch at their hut…’ I was excited.

All I have to do is walk up there and I'll find peace?
All I have to do is walk up there and I’ll find peace?

We set off and drove a ways before walking a ways. Flowers bloomed in the fields where cows grazed (and left many pats, many of which ended up stuck in the grooves of my shoes as I mistook them for rocks to walk on.) the air was crisp and cold and butterflies flew ahead leading the way- an ideal day for hiking.

The climb to the summit was rocky and steep and that awful sound of rocks running down the side of the mountain (the side you could just as easily slip down) was nearly constant. I clung to anything I could grab, probably a bit over dramatic in hindsight.

Easy and enjoyable conversation carried itself up to the summit as we did, none of this lousy tension or annoyance or boredom.

The sky cleared as we arrived, valleys dropping and quickly dispersing below us.

What a way to welcome the day
What a way to welcome the day

Deep breath. Smile.

And we began our descent. The climb was over, our morning was well spent and we finished it off with pancakes and bread and gherkins and a horribly strong shot of schnapps, shared between three (and some given to the garden.)

It was done, but the whole day and night my mood was left lifted. My worries, normally so persistent, ceased. Powerful stuff residing within those mounds of dirt and rock.

Roam

Soggy shoes but beautiful views in Plitvice Lakes national park.
Soggy shoes but beautiful views in Plitvice Lakes national park.

The time to roam is now. To be a wanderer in the winter snow, white in all directions, no clue as to where but to walk anyway.

Because:’what if?’

That’s what will provide hope amongst the consistent murmurs of ‘what’s the point?’ And those murmurs are so consistent. Pinning me down, chasing me around the globe. Now is the time to turn and face them, stare them down until they quiver and run away. This is not the time to be afraid or despondent or lethargic. This is the time to be completely wild. Wild with usage of time, with coverage of land, with greeting, befriending and fare welling people from all the lands. It’s all yours, it always will be but perhaps not quite so easily obtained.

Looking back upon this time memories of such wildness will inspire a current lifestyle. For it is not solely in travel that we can be free (obviously) but in the mindset we carry upon our shoulders. Let us not be driven by norms, by fear.

Let us be driven by ‘what if?’ Instead.

Magical paths through forests and waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes national park, Croatia.
Magical paths through forests and waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes national park, Croatia.

By the chance of magic just around the bend, and so we will hunt it down. Not awaiting companions but trusting our ability to find joy in isolation, and equally being open to change of pace and being ready to say yes at all times. Hunt down that magic as if you’ll starve without its fruits, then cherish the life it provides. Hunt, marvel, thank, hunt…

In spite of…

Writing seen on a rock during my morning walk along the coast of Puna, Croatia.
Writing seen on a rock during my morning walk along the coast of Puna, Croatia.

She’s amidst swell that’s all white wash, nothing clean, no clear waves or outlines. A flood of dusty grey, the ocean floor barely peaking through.

The sun’s the same, a fleck here and there between the clouds.

Just another day. Another wave passes and she dives deep. It brushes her hair back, bumps her sides, swells around her, encasing and filling in any conclaves then onwards it drifts. And there she is left bare, full of empty holes, stripped and exposed.

The clouds watch on, they feel the same. “We’ve been there.” It seems as though everyone has.

All the pebbles and stones and rocks feel the grace of the washy water as it too, passes them. It kisses their surfaces, brushes their cheeks. It twirls it’s hair around its fingers before sliding away. So that’s why all these pebbles are tinged red, how those pebbles do blush.

Dive deep, deeper still!

Do those stones suffice in filling up those empty holes? Have you tried? You have only but to try.

She stuffed them in leaving no gaps. She pulled her own hair, long enough now, to wrap around her waist. She felt it’s extension, it’s protection. Like this she waltz the shoreline, a ball gown of sand spraying up and around, jewels of shells plentiful. The ball of the year… Did it count if she went alone?

Oh but the clouds were still there, the sun could not attend but how about that wave? Look, There on the horizon, it returns! A new wave, it will run over her skin differently now, running over those pebbles, rushing through and delving within that band of hair.

She is waltzing around anyhow, It laps at her feet, a new take on glass slippers. And they break at the moment the wave swept away- Midnight under a different name.

Not to worry, the spins take those away. Just another day, there is no reason that this one in particular must be enjoyed. How heavy her arms felt outstretched, and yet they held nothing. Was the curse of those uninspiring ideas flowing through her blood? She felt them solidify from within.

Clear water and skies in Croatia.
Clear water and skies in Croatia.

She could learn from these waves, their flow and freedom to flow forever, nothing to attend except the tides. A life she had tried to live once yet in hindsight she wasn’t sure of its effect. It had promised peace, tantalised her with infinity and oasis’ from cluttered minds and senseless thoughts. Instead she had a jolting affair with reality and its brutality, the beauty of a life well lived in spite of.

She hung up the gown but held onto the jewels, Little messengers they whispered in her ear: not because you must, because you can! Don’t go for the sun is out, but because the clouds long for your company.

Wanderlust found in Chamonix

Misty greens from Lac Vert, Chamonix
Misty greens from Lac Vert, Chamonix

The mountains hid in the clouds hanging low, slung comfortably over the green peaks of Chamonix.

We came from Paris, and I was so grateful to have left. The cold air here didn’t feel limiting or uncomfortable but lively… enhancing. It gave energy, the beauty of mountains and waterfalls and cute wooden cottages abound gave desire. Exploring was to be done.

Cable cars rose up and swiftly disappeared into the clouds.
Our plan was to be in one of those cars, to get a view from the top… But the view on offer (of a screen of white) was not exactly what we were after.

“Is there any hiking to do?” We questioned in search of a plan b.

And that’s how we ended up at Lac Vert- green lake.

Reflections off Lac Vert, Chamonix
Reflections off Lac Vert, Chamonix

An hour up the mountain through the clouds, and we arrived at what could only be described as a haunted lake. The opposite side of the lake was covered by clouds, we couldn’t see any other people but we could hear faint whispers drifting in the distance. The water was clear enough it was almost invisible except for the reflections it produced, transforming the rocks poking up into floating islands.

We began to tread around its perimeters, in sloshy mud and wobbly rocks. Socks wet, shoes brown, the lake really was green. A mat of fluorescent green fur laid on the bottom swaying around, showing off. We marvelled.

The reason Lac vert is called Lac Vert (green lake.)
The reason Lac vert is called Lac Vert (green lake.)

 

I had lost this desire to wander whilst in Paris. I had fallen into a constant state of lethargy, I had no interest in my surroundings or the ‘sights’ they offered. To appreciate something so genuinely felt magical.

The clouds were lifting and sun filtered through, a couple appeared across the lake.

The lady, Sylvie, held onto a crystal, a large clear Quartz that she’d had for years.

“Il va prendre un bain-” “It’s going to take a bath.” She tells me and walks into the water, her shoes now wet.

She tells me I have a good aura and give off energy of the sun. After finding out my birthday is on the ‘jour d’Été,’ ‘the day of summer’ she says it all makes sense and gives me a crystal full of the rainbow as a present.

One of the wooden cabins I fell for in Chamonix.
One of the wooden cabins I fell for in Chamonix.

We eat a sandwich at the lake and head home content. The day is finished off in the spa, steam floating away in the cold afternoon. I faced the glacier and Aguille du Midi mountain, both in clear sight, Wanderlust reignited.