Close your eyes and imagine a magical place, which you enter through a gate hidden in the hedge. It leads you between two rows of junipers, along a cobbled path. It ends at an entrance adorned with hanging pink and burgundy flowers of fuchsia and fine red geraniums. On your left, you see a terrace tiled with shiny tiles. Here, you can sit down with a cup of coffee in your hand and feel that you are really resting. Near you, at the reach of your hand, there are large flower pots with tiny surfinias next to fine white flowers of tickseeds, crowned with dark pink begonia. Colourful clematis ascends wooden grilles and a little bit further, there grows vinca, common silverweed, climbing penny mac and trees that have grown here uninvited, but persevered and blended with the entire composition, led by the skilled hand of their guardians – ash, maple, willow, rowan and even mirabelle plum tree. If you add lilacs, forsythias, spruces, birdweed entangled around a lighthouse, woodbine, spreading ferns surrounded by a circle of pansies, marigolds, gardenias and bellflowers, a row of red roses and thyme and other herbs and you do not forget about a decorative olive tree with slightly ash-coloured leaves, you might think that you are in heaven. But this wonderful place exists for real and if you only feel that you need to detach from the hectic world, you can go there and drink coffee, listening only to the buzz of insects and the laughs of seagulls. Dąbki, near Darłowo. A small fisherman’s village, health resort. Sea, lake and forest. Sandy white beach and the Polish sea, mysterious and different every day. Holiday Home Maria My place on Earth. I feel myself at home here.
This year I visited Dąbki for the seventh time. And I always answer the obvious question: No, I am not bored because this place is not only sea, which is actually the same in every single town at the seaside, but it is people, without whom I cannot even start to imagine this place. And I know that if they are gone, Dąbki will lose its unique taste and remain only a memory.
Dąbki means Maria and her warm smile. And never-ending care in the eyes of others. Maria, whose heart contains so much good.. It is her and Francis who created this magical place where books write themselves and where man meets calm, regardless of the life luggage carried along on the trip. Colourful and passionate stories of Mr. Francis can throw you into a world which we know only from the stories of our grandfathers. His openness to people make everyone feel special. And Alice, the good angel of this place, without whom the whole mechanism would function as the reliable Swiss clock. To drink a coffee in their company – this is priceless! This procession of unreplaceable people also includes father Andrew. “The father of the Baltic Sea,” as he called himself one day, a parish priest, a vicar and, very often, an organist all in one. However, if anyone thinks that he is a kind of typical “rural” parish priests, they are in for a huge surprise already after the first talk with father Andrew. His words are thought-provoking and make you stop and think about yourself. He is a therapist who can not only listen to the very soul of man, but also to get an insight into their psyche.
Dąbki is also people who come here from all over Poland. They also create the climate of this place and when they leave, a part of them stays here. I close my eyes and see a cordial smile of Alice and shared halvah-and-coffee ice cream. And the sunset with another Anne, the crazy one, vibrant, talkative and bringing a lot of joy into my life. Night’s talks with my oh-so-beloved Marzena, who touches the most sensitive parts of my soul with her warmth. Each one of them is a beautiful story, which I will maybe tell some day…
A small sparrow perched on my balcony. It turned its grey head to the side and looked intently at me. Black, ember-like eyes are watching me carefully, looking for single crumbs of bread hidden somewhere near the deckchair. A seagull cried above my head. This is how I wake up for several days; not by a scream of my alarm clock, but with a scream of seagulls. There are not blocks of flats around me, just greenery. Beautiful, well-kept, groomed greenery. I am here again. I am waiting for the days here my entire burdensome year; and when I feel particularly bad because life is hard, I cling desperately to that one thought – that I will come here, to the place which can heal me of everything. To Dąbki. To “Maria”. To Maria and Francis. To the sea, which has so much to tell me.
I sit on bright sand at the coast and look at that power, which shimmers before me in colours of green and emerald. Sometimes, the surface is bit rough and full of waves caressing the beach; but there are days when the sea becomes raw force. It is steely blue then, and throws its waves to the shore agitated; the waves magnetise and scare at the same time. I like to look at such sea. It tells me its story with a loud cry and I lower my head in awe of the One who created it. No man can win with the power of nature. We can only stand in the distance and observe the waves with fascination, fear and humbleness. I approach the mountains in the same manner – aware of my mediocrity and their endless power.
My stay in Dąbki is a time of intensive writing. The only thing I need to do here is listen to the sea and write. In this magic place, the pen writes itself on the paper and thoughts are so fast that I find it difficult to follow them. I write and soak in warmth of other people who I meet here and then miss for the entire year and who, each in their own way, add a unique taste to my life. The closeness we feel despite many kilometres between us and time lapse. Time of giving and taking. The exceptionality of each of them.
In my balcony (the same one for many years) there is an old, wooden sunbed. Maria wanted to replaced it many times with a new, lighter, impersonal one; but each time I am here, I ask her “please leave it”. This old, wooden sunbed has “this something” in it. I have sometimes running thoughts or get stuck with a sentence and nothing, absolutely nothing, comes to my mind, emptiness!, then I sit down in this sunbed and it gives me inspiration. 🙂 I don’t know how it happens, but it works. When I sit in it, I write like a madman. This is a sunbed with a soul which tells me its stories heard over the years from people sitting in it. I collected them and write them down. My own stories which I make up may belong to somebody. The sea and the sunbed tells me about them. 🙂
A true story is my greeting with seagulls. I love them and they know it. I wait for a meeting with them patiently and they approach me so near that I can touch them. They are big and majestic. Always hungry. Beautiful.
I welcome them with bread (without salt :)) and sandwiches left over by boys. They must have been really hungry as they surrounded me in such a manner that I felt like a character from “The Birds”. Those on the ground came really close, but it was totally natural; I felt uneasy about those which suspended above my, at a hand’s distance. They beak looked as if they were to tear out what I kept in my hand. For a while, I got slightly scared as I realised that my younger son also kept a piece of bread in his hand and imaged how a seagull does not bother to eat bread, but bites my little Miłosz. Nevertheless, my son stood calmly, talking with seagulls and tearing off bread crumbs for a sparrow. My older son, instead of helping me out, was photographing these seagulls with great passion! Seagulls were well-behaved and waited nicely for their meal. 🙂
So, I rest here, I charge my batteries for the entire year, I listen to my soul and write a book which I want to finish by autumn. I send warm greetings to each of you from our beautiful Polish seaside.
“One of the deepest secrets of life consists in that only what we do for others is what is really worth doing.”
This sentence hangs on the board which welcomes each guest staying in Holiday Home “Maria” in Dąbki. This sentence is not accidental, the owners of the holiday house and persons employed here make every effort so that each person who decides to rest here can feel really good and special. Here, everything is made with the heart and for people. No one is anonymous or impersonal, there is a good word, warm smile and time given despite fatigue for everyone. People who come across each other in corridors exchange greetings and smiles because this place brings people together and has a special aura of kindness, cordiality and family warmth. No wonder that my books which are mainly written here include warmth which I soak in and later give back in words on paper.
A yellow, rectangular building does not stand out from the outside, except for neatness and flowers decorating balconies. From the inside, after crossing the border made of juicy green hedge, this place surrounds you with its soothing calmness that I miss throughout the year and I need to recover my strength.
I start each morning here with a cup of coffee. I sink in an armchair on the terrace and feed my eyes with colours and beauty of surrounding flowers. They are everywhere. I nestle down in them, I have them in front of me and just beside me, at my fingertips. They tell about the beauty of the world and how little a human appreciates it with their delicacy. I stop by them to hear the silence. It has so much to say…
Coffee time is also the pleasure of meeting people. My dear Friends. They have so many concerns, but for this short moment of pause, they leave them next to their armchair, watching so that no one else takes them over. They do not want to burden anyone with themselves and pain; and I would like so much to take it off them and help them carry it away. As far as possible from those who I have loved here.
Coffee gives you an injection of energy. After it, everyone starts their duties and I take my pen and notebook and hide in one of my favourite corners. When I want to be completely alone, I write in the balcony, sitting on my “inspiring” subned. I do not need a table or desk; my lap is enough. When I gets colder, I write in my room, on the sofa which has become my good friend after all this time. During the day, it lets me write, but when it gets dark and a tall, standing lamp lights up just behind my bed; my sofa takes the pen out of my hand and puts a book in it, giving me time to relax and rest. Just as I like it. With a book and surrounding me night silence. From behind a window ajar, I can hear grasshoppers playing music for me and I feel so good here that I would like to stay here forever.
When I need company of people, I go to the cafe and terrace adjacent to it. I write while observing people or talk with them, drawing energy from these encounters and motivation for work. Literary evenings are a source of great pleasure for me. We meet for tea and glass of wine; we talk in the candlelight. About books and my passion to write; about life and its dilemmas; about Dąbki which have brought us together here and our female issues which are similar, regardless of age. Such meetings give me the power to write; strengthen me and make the words flow like a river and, at times, I just do not manage to write them down. Such meetings bring people closer and later there are more and more such smiles and warm words and talks extend until early hours.
This would not be possible if it had not been for Marysia and Franek who invented and created this place, gave it their hearts and lives. This would not be possible if it had not been for Alicja who supports Maria with her steadfastness, power and perfect organisation and, most of all, friendship and heart which had suffered in life. Holiday Home Maria would not be this place which contains unique magic if it had not been for people who give it their time and hands – Mrs Ela who, with great involvement, organises free time of holidaymakers and chasing away children’s boredom with her enthusiasm and common plays; Mrs Ania from the cafe whose warm smile does not leave anyone indifferent – you just need to stop by and talk about this day given to us and its joys which are noticed by her anyway; Mrs Irena and Mrs Danuta taking care that each room is clean and doing it without complaints and fussiness, but with heart; Mrs Iwona whose meals are irresistible (every year I need a few weeks to feel good again in my clothes after coming back from Dąbki); and who does the best sour cucumber soup in the world; Krzysio without whom work in the canteen loses its rhythm and discipline; and, finally, Maria’s handy man, Mr Henio, without whom the holiday house would… it’s even hard to imagine! Mr Henio just must be there!
This is my oasis to which I will say goodbye with a burden in my heart, but also with awareness that I will come back here. Like home.
The sad trout is looking at me from the paper tray with its unseeing eyes. It tastes delicious, smoked hot in the cauldron on cherry shavings. It is so delicate that it melts in my mouth and it taste stays on my tongue and in my memory. Just like all those days I’ve spent here. In my Dąbki. Time devoted completely to writing the book and meeting people, with each and every one of them being exceptional, different, interesting, unique. As unique as all these moments I’ve spent here with those I love.
Every new day at the seaside has been greeting me with the gulls’ shriek. I like it, those seagulls and the breezy morning announcing the upcoming long and good day. It doesn’t matter if the weather is good, cloudy or rainy – any day is good, because this summer joy is in me and doesn’t depend on the weather.
The sea hums goodbye and reminds me about its invariance and it will stay here, waiting for me; just like those I’m leaving here with a heavy heart.
From behind the car window, I’m watching rain starting to pour as if it sensed my goodbye sadness. I’m leaving here everything – my beach chair, seagulls, all those well-known nooks and crannies, alleys and paths, ducks and swans. I’m leaving those my heart already yearns back to. After all these years they’ve become a part of my life – Maria whose warmth just wraps around you and who is to me… Maria, you know best who you are in my life! Franciszek, his great kindness and fascinating stories he tells in such a graphic way that it seems to me I’m watching a movie; Ala, who pays with her own health and weak heart for her commitment and devotion to the holiday home and guests resting here (Ala will look into every detail. Just stay here once, no matter much time passes, and she’ll remember which room and table at the canteen to give you, she’ll remember your requirements and will do everything she can, together with the entire crew of HH “Maria” to meet them). But she is a very good and sensitive person, just like Maria. And such people, unfortunately, have it the hardest… My Dąbki is also reverend Andrzej, the local “countryside” parish priest, as he calls himself. A great friend of our family; a man who can cure aching or lost soul, first having it go through a revolution. A man who is not afraid of strong words and always stays himself. Reverend Andrzej knows people, their weaknesses he is well aware of himself.
When I’m feeling down and the everyday life gets into such a rush that I can not longer catch up to it, I stop, close my eyes and go back to where the sea is humming. I can its rough waves or peaceful surface on a windless day; I can sense the drops of the sea breeze on my face and the smell of the Polish Baltic sea. Cool water is touching my feet. Sometimes it seems shy, and sometimes greedy; it runs away from me and comes back, playing catch – as my niece likes to put it. I run away from the city noise into the silence of the forest alley running along Bukowo lake. The six-kilometre alley, with a mixed forest growing on both sides, separates the sea from the lake and leads to the pass-through; the place where the salt water from the sea and the fresh water from the lake mix. There are days when the pass-through is closed, with the sea and the lake trapped; but when it rains a little bit more, the waters join in one whole, like husband and wife, and it becomes impossible to cross from one side of the beach to the other.
The evening meeting with the ducks and the swan family at the lake, listening to crickets on the terrace, warm glow of the fire and smell of baked potatoes and sausages; fish support that anybody who has ever stayed at the Holiday Home “Maria” is waiting for; meetings, conversations; It has all grown on me over the time I’ve spent here, in Dąbki. I’m leaving with three fourth of the book ready. If I want peace needed to finish it, I’ll run off to my Nałęczów and Kazimierz. They will also give me the stoppage I will use to write the last chapters and sentences. And my Dąbki… it misses me and miss it. But I’ll go back there. Soon 🙂