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.