The World Cup progresses. I was invited to watch a Germany game at one of my brother’s friends’ house in a small village nearby last week. When I arrived with Moana, I met him at the BBQ, where he was grilling sausages (what else?) with his youngest son. In the spirit of the soccer game he had painted a small red, yellow, and black stripe in the color of the national flag across his head to support Germany (in this case a bald head can be quite practical) much to the amusement of the kids. My middle brother had done this once with his dog too — for a prior World Cup. A patriotic canine, and in this case also less work, as the dog’s fur is black.
A projection screen was set up in the barn, the pre-game chatter was on, and Armin’s kids as well as about half a dozen neighbor kids were playing soccer in the courtyard between the barns and the house. A girl — about nine or ten years old, was in the wooden goal where she bravely fought off kicked soccer balls from the overenthusiastic boy ruffians. It reminded me of when I picked up my snow leopard from a summer camp in Yosemite one year, where she had to put up with a lot from her riff-raff compatriots. Easy there with the soccer ball boys — not so hard, she’s a girl. Moana (tied to a post on her leash) was of course constantly barking at the ball, but since there was so much yelling going on, it hardly mattered. That dog considers every soccer ball in sight her exclusive personal property. Not only that, but she is also a retriever that retrieves — and then keeps.
One of the older girls took me inside one of the barns and showed me a kitten and a mom cat, both of whom I got to pet. There is nothing softer in the world than a kitten I believe, and it’s that time of year again, when kittens abound in the rural areas. I found it very hard to leave the barn.
Have a blessed week
The author will digress a bit now: it’s time for the World Cup, the most exciting, and globally beloved sports event, held once every four years. I always love seeing the different countries and their kaleidoscope of fans participate. This cup should be a lot of fun again, just like the last one in South Africa in 2010. During that one, I had my neighbors from Brazil, Uruguay, Greece, and of course the US, and Germany assembled in my loft in Oakland, California for several of the games — a diverse international audience. At the top of the hill, I saw a huge South African flag flying — soccer fans everywhere during that time it seemed. Deservedly, with a beautiful game on their part — Spain claimed the cup.
I have a friend who used to own a Brazilian restaurant in San Francisco, so the current tournament made me think of her. Café do Brasil (which during games was packed) has been closed for quite some time now, and Elvia is retired (sadly, I don’t know where — a book I sent to your last address I had came back). I hope you are doing well. We sure had a lot of great food there (our favorite was the Brazilian national dish: feijoada). Obrigado.
On a musical note (if that term may be used) one does hope the upcoming cup will be without Vuvuzelas. En masse, the do tend to be a bit abrasive, as South Africa clearly demonstrated.
While grocery shopping the other day, I saw displays of World Cup merchandise: glasses, flags, musical instruments, and this may be unique to Germany — a garden gnome dressed in the national team garb. Who would put this eyesore in their garden is beyond me, but they do exist, just so you know. The television coverage here in Germany has been delightful, including the roving reporters covering the various locations in Brazil.
Juntos num só ritmo™ !
Such a contrast: last Sunday, I was still driving on a freeway in California to attend Service, surrounded by speeders going who knows where in their silly hurry. A bit jet lagged, having arrived a few days ago in Germany, I am slowly acclimating. It’s great to see my brothers after two long years. This morning, as yellow smiling buttercups greeted me, I made my way to one of the small villages in Haunetal to my favorite little church. Just a few cars on the road, otherwise, wonderful peace everywhere. The ringing of the church bells could be heard in the distance, as I entered the small village with its half-timbered houses. An idyllic Sunday morning. Some large red unfolded poppies caught my eye — a sure sign of summer, and a few people from the village walking to church. I closed my eyes in the bright sun, soaking in the early morning and happy to go to Service. Thank you God for this beautiful day.
This watercolor is from the back cover of, and it is also contained inside my latest book “Sea Shells, C’est Gratuit”. The state of Thüringen lies in the former East Germany, and after the fall of the wall (which is now probably considered ancient history), is accessible to all people once again. It is especially beautiful in the summer, when the golden wheat fields, flanked by long rows of trees (Alleenstraße), exude the abundance of a harvest yet to come. Sweet smells, sounds, and colors of the country — dragonflies and butterflies doing their summer dance; red poppies peeking up through the wheat stalks, cornflowers boasting their Prussian blue. I recall many years ago, visiting my parents with my young sons — when Germany was still divided and Thüringen was not accessible. We took a trip to the border — Thüringen was in plain sight — and saw an East German rabbit blatantly trespassing from East to West, oblivious to the ominous guard towers (I don’t believe he was in possession of a passport either). Thank God, the Wall is now long gone. The rabbit’s descendants (the ones, that have not landed in their proper place — a pot) must surely populate a united Germany now.
I set my alarm an hour too early by mistake today for getting to Service, but that made for a stop at the bakery beforehand, to buy some heavenly smelling French bread. The sky was hazy on the drive to Church, but occasional patches of fall color in golden ginkgo yellow and bright blood-orange red could be seen in the valley adjacent to the gray, dry, barren California hills. One of my brothers who lives in Marburg, Germany told me about walking his dog in the pouring rain a few days ago. The leaves are all gone there already in that lovely small University town, and November is a tough month to get through until the lights of the Christmas season appear.
After picking up some pistachios at the Farmer’s market (I like to eat them, my cat Calvin is adept at catching them in the air with his paws and then playing with them), I went into the donut store, where a girl — her hair tied with a pretty ribbon in a ponytail — was able on her third attempt to grab the donut I had selected with her tongs, spilling a bit of powder sugar on herself. The height difference and the counter in between accounted for this amusing delay. The donut was to be my companion for a pumpkin-spice latte.
As I sat on the bench outside the coffee store, my donut was immediately sniffed out by a dog of rather low stature, who gently took two small morsels after I got the OK from the owner. A dog three times it’s size but also still a puppy then came by to play. It had on a uniform that read: “Please ask to pet me, I’m friendly and a service dog”, so I obliged. After my petting duty was done, the two dogs played, then settled down under the bench below their owners to enjoy the early afternoon sun.
Have a blessed week
Today is Erntedanktag, the German Church celebration of giving thanks to God for the harvest, and for our food. In Germany at this time of year, the sights and sounds of fall are in the air, the leaves preparing themselves to drop from the trees to rustle at little feet shuffling through them, crisp air foretelling the end of summer and celebrating autumn, perhaps a fireplace wafting the smell of wood, pears and apples, waiting to be gathered to become apple cider or a yummy desert. A time to reflect, and to be grateful.
Have a blessed week