Monthly Archives: February 2018

Daniela Returns to the Arges

True to her word, Daniela only worked with Remko for 5 or 6 weeks in Holland. With incredible efficiency and ingenuity, she got the greenhouse company turned around and running like a well-oiled machine. Greenhouse produce and procedures were up and running and profitable in no time. He was sad to see her go, but she assured him another well qualified operative was already on the way and competent to continue the practices she had put into place. Soon, she said, he would never even know that she was there. He wasn’t so sure about that.

Daniela had never been on a motorcycle. When she was little, her older sister had a friend, who had a friend, who had brother who had a Moped. It was one of those early Italian scooters that had bicycle pedals to assist the tiny motor going uphill or even to gain speed on a straightaway. All the girls longed for a ride on the back of Flaviu’s scooter. He had long and golden hair that flowed with the breeze when he rode through the village. It made them feel like a queen when they were chosen for a ride. Bug eyes peering through his googles and face gritty with the wind, he was almost a mythical being.

She never wanted to be that royalty behind Flaviu on his Moped, all she ever wanted was to be with the soil and the earth. To make things grow, and to make life appear. She got dizzy with delight on those spring days when the first green shoots poked their heads up out of the brown dirt and leaned in towards the sun.

Years later, Daniela found herself in a village on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The valley below was rich, fertile and watered by the melting snow. The Genil River that ran through the town was lined with olives and oranges. Vineyards, abundant with grapes, filled a thousand hectares on the rolling hills beyond. During the harvest of green beans and tomatoes, she was out in the fields learning her craft and paying keen attention to how they could be adapted to greenhouse technology for year round production. All this would serve her well in the future.

It was during that summer she met Romeo. Tall, and handsome he was shirtless on the tractor that day. Her heart skipped a beat, and when he saw her, the perfectly straight furrow line he was plowing went wildly crooked.  They laughed about it later that evening over a glass of wine. When he went to kiss her hand goodnight, she blushed and turned red. Was it embarrassment, or was it the wine?

Daniela was strong. She was confident. She was kind to strangers and she was gentle. She valued hard work and honesty. At the end of a day’s work, her sweat mixed with the sweet aroma of the soil, and it was intoxicating. Romeo was soon very much in love with her. Their time together was magical, it was also coming to an end, but it would never be forgotten. Their last night was enchanting. In the small hours of the morning, plans were formed and promises were made, but no one really knew what would or could happen. The future is always so uncertain. When she fell deep asleep, he left her warm embrace and tiptoed away. He went out to the fields, empty now that the harvest was over. He looked up into the clear sky full of stars. A brilliant meteor, a shooting star, went by and he wished upon it that they would meet again.

Remko tried to hide his watery eyes when he drove Daniela to the Schiphol Airport. She had a way of tenderly touching the emotions of everyone she came in contact with. He realized his tears were for her and not for him. Yes, he was admittedly sad that the greenhouse company offices would never be the same without her energy and enthusiasm, but she was going back to what she craved. Back to work her soil, tend to her animals and back to the people who loved her. No one really knows what would or could happen. The future is always so uncertain, but for now, she was going back to the Arges.

Daniela of the Arges

I first met Daniela on the beach at the seaside town of Deal on the English Channel. Usually a crowded resort in the summer, this December it was cold and windy. It was clear though, and if you squinted your eyes, you could just make out the coast of France, 25 miles away. She was working for a big manufacturer of modern greenhouses up near the Deal Tudor Castle, made to protect against an invasion of France in the 16th century. As if planned by design, her 21st century greenhouse company, with solar panels and space age plastics, often had more sun exposure and was never intimidated or in the shadow of the cold stone of the castle. One of the 6 huge rounded bastions caught the sun and shadowed perfectly acting like a giant sundial onto the greenhouse grounds.

She had just gone out for a walk and a breath of fresh air. I had been stuck inside a windowless, cold bunker of a building that housed a telephone company and was out doing the same. She looked deep in thought and I didn’t want to interrupt, but when our eyes met, her kind smile drew me in. She was strikingly beautiful and I struggled not to stumble over my words. As we talked, I learned she was only here for a few more weeks before taking charge of the head office in Holland, run by Remko, the eccentric billionaire president of the greenhouse company. I learned he had inherited the business from his father, and really knew nothing about it. Daniela was known all over Europe as the most knowledgeable and skilled in green growing technology and could make life appear, as if by magic, when she toiled and kneaded the dirt and the earth between her fingers. Remko summoned her for that vast knowledge. He was lucky to have her, but it wouldn’t be for long. She shared the secret with me that her real dream was to work the land with her hands and nurture the earth to produce mouthwatering and dazzling food from the soil that is nourished from the water that flows from the Fagaras Mountains and forms the Arges River.

We only had a few weeks together. In the morning, I had coffee, she had tea. In the evening we shared red wine. When she smiled her eyes sparkled and shined like a brilliant rainbow, and when she cried they glistened with such depth I was immediately captured and a prisoner of her sorrow. When she was breathless with passion, beads of sweat would appear on her skin of silk, and when she slept, the tender layer of skin on her eyelid imperceptibly fluttered with her dreams.

Tomorrow, the green and healthy crops from her caring hands will thrive and flourish. Tonight, my lips still taste the wine we drank and the secrets we shared, and I remember the smell of the ocean and the sand in her hair as if it were yesterday.