When I was a child, I lived in a big house with a big, big garden, slightly outside Klagenfurt. I used to play in the forest, I used to swim in a small basin in a small river a kilometer away. I used to ski in our own garden and on a gentle slope two hundred meters from home. I had a grandmother and her cousin, who both lived with us. So did the family of my uncle.
All that is gone now. My whole past is gone.
The house still stands and my mother still lives in it. Alone.
What is left of the forest looks completely different. Our garden has a single old pear tree now. It’s the tree under which my grandmother and her cousin used to sit and bicker.
The plum tree, where I spent so many hours reading and hiding like Calvino’s “Baron in the Trees”, the plum tree with its sweet, sweet fruit, it has long been cut down. The apple trees that gave us our own juice, they have fallen. Nobody skis on that gentle slope any more, it’s crowded with houses now. A highway was built where the basin was.
This one of the things that I love in Rab. I’ve been there in my youth and then not for a long time, but when I returned, it was still there. Sure, much has changed, but returning to a few rocks that I remember from 40 years ago and that are still as they were - this was an almost religious experience: Coming home.