Summer Memories

As I sit at a new small wooden table with my brother Holger under the Linden tree, a slight drizzle ensues. The table — a birthday present — is made of a very unusual wood. I don’t know what kind of wood it is, but it has a wonderful aromatic smell and it changes to a darker color when it gets wet, revealing the intricate pattern of the wood grain. Wood grain has always had an attraction for me — nothing compares to its natural beauty. We are enjoying the last of the late evening summer light under the canopy of the old tree, listening to the stream, and enjoying the smell of rain in the air. “Oh crap, my laundry!” I jump up and run behind the barn to retrieve several towels and some pants that I had hung outside to dry. I keep forgetting, that unlike California, where its dry from May until November as a general rule, the rain has its own timetable and playful unpredictability in Germany. Oh good — the laundry got only slightly wet — I hang it over some chairs in the barn. My brother grins at Mr. Forgetful, as I reemerge from the barn. “Wipe that smile off your face!”

I can be as quiet as a church mouse, but when I come from the barn in the morning to go into the house, I am always detected by Holger’s dog Moana. “Good morning girl!” She rolls on her side, and I rub her tummy as she wags her tail — a happy dog. As I turn on the burner under the water kettle, I see a tiny snail stuck to the outside of the top window pane. That’s quite a climb you have accomplished there Mr. Snail — your own skyscraper assent. I wonder what inspired such an endeavor.

The four wild cats have detected me as well, and are jumping up against the glass door, paw prints everywhere. Alright, alright, already — one order of crunchies and warm milk coming up. Usually I can pet them just a bit when the milk is served, as greed then outweighs fear, although they still shrink back or dart away sometimes. There are two new wild kittens, one of whom I am able to pet now, as he has discovered the milk dish. The kitten usually shows up only at dusk though.

It’s time for a walk with Moana. She has waited patiently for me to drink my cup of tea. She loves the morning walk through the forest, and as we get to the large downslope, she waits behind the same tree where she always waits on every walk, looking expectantly at me to throw a rock down the slope. When I throw the rock, she goes tearing down the hill after it at breakneck speed, once in a while even overtaking the rock. She doesn’t necessarily return the same rock that was thrown however. But then again, retrievers are not exactly know for being the brightest bulbs. The rock is then proudly carried in her mouth all the way back to the barn. She has a collection of them next to the stream, some of which I occasionally take to reuse on the walks.

Skipping to evening: the Linden tree, the barn, the house and the meadow have all melted into a charcoal darkness. A few bats — fleeting shadows — are flying over the stream (briefly barked at by Moana until I hush her) gathering up lots of mosquitos one hopes. Blink, blink, blink — three fireflies have appeared. I love fireflies, one of God’s prettiest creations. I opt now to go for the same walk I usually take in the morning, to see if I can meet more fireflies. It’s almost pitch black now. I am rewarded soon: more and more fireflies turn off and on here and there, occasionally illuminating the silhouette of a tree. They make me so happy. On the way back, I count twenty-five of them, or did I miss a few?

Have a blessed week

Laziness

I started to read a small book that has been sitting on a shelf for an inordinate amount of time. Transported here from Germany some years ago, it is the top book of a diminutive stack of books and thus the main candidate for collecting dust, much to its annoyance I’m sure. Even more inexcusable than not reading it, is the fact that there are only a few books around the apartment (most of my books are in boxes in storage) and the television has no reception here — probably a good thing. Thus — dust brushed off — the initiative to finally read it is taken.

The book states that it is a collection of light humor by a broad variety of authors. I started reading, but found the dust jacket statement to be an exaggeration and I almost put the book away, only to find a gem of a story just before doing so: an amusing anecdote about laziness. Not exactly a virtue by any means, but the author has taken great care to expand on the subject, of course at a very leisurely pace.

Having enjoyed the short story immensely, (sitting in a lawn chair outside while reading it — appropriate to the subject matter) I walked back upstairs to the apartment and what did I see? My lazy cat, who had managed to get his lazy cat butt off the kitchen chair where he had been sleeping when I went downstairs, only to move the short distance to my office in my absence to sleep under the table, exactly to where the last ray of sunshine was falling, caressing his tummy — his eyes closed in great pleasure. Words failed me at the sight, but a chuckle did escape me.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you this week and give you rest, and perhaps a ray of sunshine on your tummy.

Perspective

Vantage PointI love to photograph fields: be they the first green of spring, the wheat, barley, and rye fields of summer, the stubble of fall fields, or the barren frozen ground of winter, before the earth thaws again.

One of the things I learned a long time ago in one of my photography classes, is that from a camera perspective, a “bugs eye view” can sometimes be very interesting. Alternately, squatting down and taking a child’s point of view is fun too. We tend to forget what is at that eye level — it can open up new fields of vision.

As you may notice, the bug pictured here above, apparently wasn’t content with his “bugs eye view” perspective. On the contrary, he may have been inspired that day to take our point of view. Quite adept at climbing too, if I may impart my opinion on his feat.

May your perspective be heavenly this week.

Farben

Gelbe Punkte auf finsterem Samt: der Sternenhimmel. Dann leuchtet Indigo am Horizont: ein erster Bote des Lichtes. Es folgt Türkis, ein fahles, nach unten orange auslaufendes Türkis, manchmal sogar mit einem geheimnisvollen grünen Leuchten. Die Sterne verblassen, nur der Morgenstern vermag noch zu funkeln. Ein rosa Streifen legt sich darunter. Das Rosa wird karminrot, gelb-oranges Funkeln in seiner Mitte. Der Horizont beginnt zu brennen. Und dann erscheint ein leuchtender Bogen, der zur Halbscheibe wird, bis schließlich das ganze tiefrot-orange Rund zu sehen ist und man den Blick abwenden muss: Die Sonne ist aufgegangen. Der Beginn eines neuen Tages. Gott sei Dank!

Aus dem Neukirchener Kalender

Rent-A-Cat

Back to reality. It’s time to pack the big green bag for California. It looks like half a grocery shelf that I’m bringing back for family and friends. My cat Calvin, a Rent-A-Cat for the time being, is most likely wondering where his human is. Solitary confinement in a house from his perspective, with squirrels mocking at the windows. But perhaps preferable to the feline brutes of the current neighborhood. I’m sure my old neighbor Bill has spoiled him rotten while I have been gone.

Should I confess to cavorting with dogs? Perhaps a bit later, after my absence has been forgiven. There is a pouch of rabbit in gravy sauce (a German cat food specialty), among the contents of the green bag, which may help to facilitate the matter…

No EU Repercussions

Moana (my brother Holger’s dog) loves to come along on trips in the car. When she hears the word Ausflug (excursion), her ears perk up, and she is ready for the car door to be opened. Little does she know, that today’s drive to pick up a few groceries, includes getting some sausage ends. This store — and I will protect their identity, so there will be no EU repercussions (you may remembers this subject from my prior writings) occasionally has such leftovers, and gives them to deserving dogs — at no charge. If word got around among the canines, there most certainly be a queue in front of the store I would imagine. Off we go, the back rear window dutifully rolled down, so she can hold her head out the window. I bet this dog would love pickup trucks in America.

We arrive at the store and she lies down in the back seat as I go shopping. It’s a short list today, some bread and some Schinken (cured ham), or in other words — a few of the missing ingredients for Strammer Max (an open faced sandwich made with egg, ham, tomatoes, and cornichons — feel free to have a look in Wikipedia). And yes indeed: they have leftover sausage ends today. Success for both man and dog. Some milk for the cats, and then the necessary transaction with the cashier.

There is some sniffing on Moana’s part as I re-enter the car — dinner has been detected. Driving out of the village, and then on the main road, I pull over and park to go for a walk through the fields. There is a very quick exit out the car on Moana’s part as I open the back door. All I can see now is a tail waving in the air as she goes full speed up the tractor path between the fields. I have trained her a bit since I have been here, and she returns most of the time when I call her. I do hope there are no rabbits though, because then all is lost, as the hare amuses him or herself with a contemplated exercise routine. OK girl, time to go back, the groceries are getting warm and the cats want their milk.

Have a blessed week