"Will you be back?"
"I doubt it. My business here's almost complete. I just have to say goodbye to my sister."
After breakfast, backpack and walking poles at the ready, I linger a moment in front of the hotel. Reigoldswil – the picturesque village in the Canton of 'Basel Landschaft' – had to reinvent itself after the silk ribbon industry's demise. It found a new vocation and income in tracking tourism.
How little the village has changed in the last thirty years! I look about me in a way only someone manages who knows he'll never return to a place ever. The graffiti-covered waiting-room-cum-toilet is new. In front of it, a bulky granite Diana aims at the heavens. You'll have to imagine the arrow. The 'Hintere Frenke' rivers flows peacefully in its concrete bed in between the venerable buildings this morning. It knows how to rage as well, that humble creek.
It's a glorious April morning but my breath rises in billows. At Easter, the snowline had dipped once more. All about, the hilltops carry a sugary sprinkle. The backpack pinches my back but I'll need two free hands. Excited like a teenager before her first date I hit the road.
I leave the village square behind me. The climbing road leads me past the little museum. I admire the beauty of that old farmhouse.
You'll look in vain for something like that where we live. Shortly afterwards, the road crosses a field. I stop, eye left into the glade. There is stands, our house. But for the conservatory the new owners have added, it hasn't changed. I feel as if Rita should come out of the door any moment to bid me a lovely day at school.
The door remains shut.
On my first day, I'd toyed with the thought to ring the doorbell and ask if I might have a look around. But then I didn't. The fewer people knew who I was, the better.
(To be continued)