The little park close to the Orff Institute in Salzburg has always symbolized civilization at its best to me. There I have enjoyed countless market lunches in company with students, teachers, my family and myself, either comfortable in the shade or basking in the sun. It’s where my kids romped freely at 5 and 9 years old, where people play ping pong on their lunch breaks, where the Orff folks sing songs, play games or just take a break from the classes and talk. And most importantly, we usually have at least an hour and a half to do it.
Every time I return from Salzburg to my school and find myself bolting down lunch in my short 20-minute lunch break, I think wistfully of the wisdom of life lived more leisurely. Why are we always in such a hurry? What’s wrong with taking some time to savor and enjoy? Europe has long been known for its mid-day closures for lunch, but we Americans still haven't quite caught on.
And so after a fun five-hour car ride from Verona, I arrived in this city that has become a second home of sorts. Never have stayed here for more than 6 weeks at a time, but have come most every year since 1990 and always in the intensity of teaching or performing, the leisure of long lunches and rambling bike rides around what certainly is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. And mostly holding its own against the intrusion of speed, efficiency and ugliness (though one new monstrous building on Alpenstrasse that is not a good sign).
But the good news is that in my little paradise of a park, there are now two permanent hammocks. Nothing symbolizes the bounty of summer leisure so profoundly as a hammock and with time on my hands before the gathering of the Orff Forum (a convocation of Orff associations worldwide), I lay in one and read my book and napped and woke up wholly in the embrace of Summer. And a loving embrace it was.
Long past the age when I tell people what I want for my birthday— mostly it’s things like, “Help me clean the front room, store, organize and throw out papers.” But if anyone should ask, my answer is clear. Can you guess?