Saturday, 01 October 2022
Gillie Sutherland Gillie Sutherland

Enchanted By Grandma’s Summer

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Sep 19, 2022

Even back in the UK, September was always one of my favourite months. Never quite ready to pack away the flip-flops and bring out the Winter boots, I’d be clinging on to the last rays of summer sunshine with all my might.

It was always a bit hit-and-miss though, to be honest, and the word “Autumnal” was creeping into our daily weather chats a little too often for my liking.

September in Croatia, however, it’s just perfect. 

The sea is warm, the evenings are cooler so you can sleep better, we enjoy the most stunning sunsets, and there’s a gentle, but profound, slowing down. Life is sweet.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a name for this season -it’s called Late Summer, as the yearly calendar is divided into five seasons, not the four we typically think of in the West.

I learned this week there is a name for it in Croatia too, as well as other Old European cultures, and it’s called “Baba Ljeto” literally translated as "Grandma’s Summer".

Baba was also known as the Great Goddess, or Mother Earth who controlled the waters and the cold, ruling over Summer. She was the polar, but complementary, opposite to Father Sky, who controlled the sun and the heat, ruling over Summer.

We can see this polarity everywhere in nature, known as the “yin and yang” in the East -  it is simply two opposing forces creating balance, so it seems fitting that this is also the time of the Autumn Equinox.

What I love about nature is that it brings together so many schools of thought, belief systems, even religions, for it is just the science of life.

This week I am blessed to be enjoying these last days of summer in the Dubrovnik Riviera, with two polar opposite adventures, and it’s left me enchanted once more with this area.

Mid-week I am on a Cave and Beach adventure with Karuzo Boat Tours, and this feels like yoga to me.

The expanse of the ocean as we travel towards the Elaphite islands clears my mind of any worries, and reminds me of all the potential and possibilities in the world.

Snorkelling into the blue cave is like exploring the darkness in order to come back to the light.

As I challenge myself scrambling up the rocks to jump from a height, I am aware once more of the strength that lies within me, and how at the other side of fear, there is freedom.

Watching the sunset on the back of the boat cruising back towards Mlini, I feel the perfect rhythms of nature, and how every ending just marks a new beginning.

A couple of days later, I find myself retracing my steps back in the Konavle valley, to experience the delights of the Crvik winery.

It was a day of rather inclement weather, and I was a little grumpy as my phone had died, meaning an administrative headache, as I’ve not properly backed everything up. But I made the effort because there was a quote on the website which made me think I was going to enjoy this place.

Wine is the most beneficial of all drinks, the pleasantest medicine in the world, and of all dainties, the least cloying to the appetite”.

Ok, I’m in.

Why it has taken me over two years to find this place is a mystery to me.

I’m here now because I am creating new activities and experiences for my holidays to Croatia, and this one would come at the end of a trip to Pasjaca beach where we will do some yoga and wild swimming. 

“Yoga first, wine later”, I tell my guests.

So at the winery, I try the Malvasija, a firm Summer favourite of mine, and it’s one of the best I have tried.

But it’s the red wine, the Vilin Ples, which really captivates me. 

A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Plavac Mali, it’s just spot on for this time of year, my body says a resounding “yes!”. It’s name translates as "Dance Of The Fairy" -  the name is inspired by the work of Marin Drzic, a 16th Century Renaissance writer.

With the flavours of blueberry , dark chocolate, dry plum, and cedar still on my palate as I leave, there’s one word that springs to mind. It describes not just the wine, but how I feel about this region, this season, and all that nature provides for us.

The word is French: “Enchante”.

I’m in Croatia so I should say “Drago Mi Je” for “Nice To Meet You”, but it’s more than that. I’m enchanted.

And I can’t wait for the rest of the magic that this "Grandma’s Summer" has to offer.

 

Read more Gillie here...  

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Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to www.behappyfit.co.uk

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