Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Will I Reach The Top of the Mountain?

I have been a bit behind “schedule” blogging in the past few weeks. My excuse is a good one: I recently got back from Italy and France. We try to go there at least every other year. We stay with my husband’s very big, very varied and very lovely family. 


Summing it all up seems impossible, but I’ll try anyway. It’s traveling up and down a winding staircase inside a 400-something year old house in a small French village. It’s playing “la petanque:” a European version of bowling where you let roll heavy silver balls along flat sandy ground. 

"les tournesols" (or "sunflowers")

It’s la ratatouille that smells of herbes de Provence accompanied by bread that is soft and crusty. It’s walking up the serpentine paths around the mountain of the Italian Alps, wondering if the destination might just be behind the next bend. (It usually isn’t). It’s collecting bouquets of wild daisies and cotton flowers and rhododendron, all sorts of pink and yellow and lavender and white beauties withering too quickly in your hand. 

It’s washing dishes in the cold water of the mountain — it’s throwing myself into the lake in my underwear, disregarding the rain, just as the first rolls of thunder start to echo someplace not too far above our heads.

It’s wild strawberries and blueberries beckoning from under their green sheltering leaves.

It’s family politics, and friendship and love and a passionate fight with my husband that ended in the sharing of a flower. It’s stealing moments to read “Eat, Pray, Love” and search for lost self along with Elizabeth Gilbert.


Now, I find myself taking a deep breath, before the start  of a school year: new classes for me to take, new classrooms to test my emerging teaching skills — a new manuscript to try my hand at.

I am so strong after this vacation. I feel like a bull, ready to charge down the hill — or up the tallest mountain. Yet, I take a deep breath, asking God for more strength. The air here in this Jersey town is humid and smelling of nothing — unlike the crispy cool wind of the Alps. Still, I let the memories of the magic fill me. I would be a liar if I say I am not afraid of what lies ahead: I am terrified. I am afraid of failure, afraid that I am taking on too much, afraid that in the end, no matter how hard I work, I will amount to nothing.

It reminds me of the way I was walking toward the highest point on our mountain after that fight with hubby (we don’t fight very often, but when we do, our fights are very dramatic and passionate.) Defiant, I didn’t even feel the cold as I got closer to the top. Muscles in my legs pumping hard, my entire body was buzzing with anger. As I walked higher and higher, the fog enveloped me everywhere, and I started wondering, am I there yet? Am I there yet?

Now I reach for the other feelings that simmered inside me back then: beyond the anger, there was the awe of the beauty above and below me, the indifference to what happens outside of the fog, the joy of my legs pumping.

The land under my feet is flat here today, still I ask myself the same question. Will I reach the top of the mountain?

My honest answer is: I don’t know. 

But I know what I can do. No matter how crazy my life gets, I can keep those legs moving and enjoy the scenery.


August 27, 2010 - Posted by | Personal Mirror | , , , ,


  1. Katia,

    Your pictures and the description of your vacation are beautiful. I’m jealous : ) Are we going to see any of that cool, crisp air of the Alps blow through any of your stories? I’ll be looking for it!


    Comment by PB | August 31, 2010 | Reply

  2. Good question, P! My answer is “probably yes!” Just don’t ask me when or how . . . not yet . . .

    Comment by Katia Raina | August 31, 2010 | Reply

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