Last night I thought about a little cabin in the mountains my parents used to rent throughout my childhood.
It wasn’t the average vacation home, and frankly I don’t know how my parents ever found it. It was an old house—built in the late 1800s or early 1900s—entirely embraced by a thick forest, situated on top of a mountain in the Appennini range in Italy. It was not accessible by car, so we always had to park at the foot of the mountain and then hike all the way up, using a very narrow path swallowed by tall weeds and canopied by taller tree branches that seemed to connect fingers with each other as if in prayer.
It was quite a hike. Since we could not bring the car up, we had to lug groceries and other necessities every time we went up.
I remember the first time we went up: After walking for what felt like an eternity, we finally spilled around a curve and continued up a slightly wider path that led directly to the house. The structure itself was old stone, and it vaguely reminded me of the small houses I had seen on Mickey Mouse cartoons. It was a two-story home, with green shutters, and a huge chimney; two large oak trees stood beside it as if they were guarding the abode from the threat of invisible enemies. On the other side of the house was an old tub and an enclosure—also built in stone—that had probably been used as a patio.
The house itself was not very impressive. It was old and isolated, with no phone service and a little box of a bathroom built in the rear of the attached barn.
While my parents went quickly to work, airing out and cleaning up, I had the chance to walk around the premises and take it all in. Contrary to my sister, I was already in love with the place. At a time of my life when Heidi was my favorite movie character, I felt as if I had magically switched places with her, and I was given the exclusive of spending the summer at her grandfather’s mountain cabin.
There was something special about the place; although it was old and run down—and nearly a heart attack to reach—it was like a bite of Heaven on earth, tucked near the clouds as it was, with a front seat view on the valley that spread underneath like a precious Persian rug. It was beautiful, mysterious, breathtaking. It took a lot of effort to reach it, but once there, it was amazing.
Isn’t that how life works, too? We work hard and struggle to reach something, often discouraged and tired as we wade through the difficulties on our path. Once we finally reach our intended destination, we are able to truly taste the flavor of the final reward.
We would not appreciate sunrise without the dark night, or the hug of a warm blanket if we had not been clutched by the icy fingers of a cold winter day.