Tag Archives: summer

Pay attention!

A quiet and hot California Sunday.  I have to force myself to get up this morning and make the long drive, but I’m glad I do. After all – man does not live by bread alone. Before I enter church, I stop in at the pre-school building, whose front door is open. The pastor’s wife and one of her daughters are pasting jellyfish made out of paper plates and tissue paper up on the ceiling. Lobsters and crabs made from kids handprints and footprints decorate the walls. A maritime theme! We briefly chat about the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the jellyfish providing the cue. It’s been so long since I have been there I  think and sigh.

The doors of the church have been kept shut for the past few days, so the sanctuary is pleasantly cool inside. It is a sparsely attended service. No surprise, it’s vacation time. The sermon today is about the parable of the sower. I have always liked it, and it is always a good reminder for me.

Half a BBQ chicken, a loaf of bread, and some cheese acquired from the supermarket afterwards, I then drive home and walk up to the apartment, where a sharp rebuke is issued to me by a hummingbird hovering near the feeder, which hangs close to the door.

I believe the context of the distinctly one-sided conversation may be interpreted as follows: “So, Sunday is the day of rest, huh? What about my feeder? Ten percent full! See! I might add the nectar is a bit stale too, and I do notice all the goodies you bought for yourself. So, if you don’t mind, kindly clean, and then refill my feeder, thank you very much”.

Right away, Ms. or Mr. hummingbird, and please do accept my sincere apologies for the oversight!

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Ominous Skies

The other morning I awoke to dozens and dozens of lightning strikes, followed by waves of thunder. The days before had been hot and humid, and as is so often the case, this then leads to thunder and lightning. It made me think of the book of Job, where God declares his mighty power, when questioned by Job. Thunder and lighting in all it’s fury (so prevalent in Europe in the summer) humbles our little human existence.

Unable to sleep anymore, I made my way from the barn to the house to get a cup of tea. My brother’s golden retriever Moana as usual was overjoyed to see me, forgetting the turbulence all around us. It was now nine o’clock in the morning, and the sky was such a menacing black that it felt almost like it was night. I filled the kettle with water and set it on the stove to boil. Looking out the window, I could see the shadow of the ancient apple tree, a dark silhouette against an even darker sky. It was pouring rain now, and the little stream that flows by the house had turned into a raging torrent, tussling small branches in it’s path.

I gave Moana a “cookie”, as the kettle started to boil. She was completely oblivious to the weather by now, as her focus was on her treat. As I sipped my cup of tea, I opened the front door and standing in the door frame smelled the sweet smell of rain, as I watched it cascade down in sheets. This little valley seems to collect thunderstorms in the summer — they linger, but then finally move on.  As the rain softened, the black sky turned a lighter shade of gray, painting the land peaceful once more.

Have a blessed week

Thüringen

Thüringen

Thüringen

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.

Summer

Dahlia

Dahlia

The lumbering bear is in dire need of moving around a bit to stretch, so after making a payment at my dentist’s office, I park on the street next to the beach. I am careful to observe the rear view mirror, in case there are any lurking meter maids, as it is five minutes to 11 o’clock, and there is street sweeping here today until said time — the sign informs me. From the looks of the street, the sweepers have already passed, but due caution is always advised in such matters.

Today is June 21, the start of summer! A few days ago, a beautiful dahlia from my small garden opened up — that’s a sure sign of summer, if there ever was one. It reminds me of my mom’s dahlia garden in Germany.

Having taken off my glasses, to put on a baseball-style cap that my youngest son gave me, I meander to the beach, where I take off my flip-flops, for a long walk along the water. To my left are some rather well-nourished seagulls, who keep a respectful distance. In front of me, I see a bright neon orange plastic starfish mold, an incentive for a kid to produce sand starfish, and plenty of them too! A starfish colony, perhaps? Starfish are beautiful creations — I’m always amazed at their feel, which is not unlike sandpaper. I see a kite in the sky; surprising, considering there is almost no wind today. But upon closer observation, the kite moves north and turns out to be a Southwest Airlines airplane. What a doofus — the glasses would have helped clarify this sooner; I chuckle.

At the end of the beach, I decide on some lunch, and enter a Japanese restaurant to have their bento box lunch special. A few tables away, I see Captain America (he is wearing his t-shirt) eating lunch with his two small children. They seem happy, that dad took them out to lunch. I have been observing the girl who has been seating people at their tables, while eating my lunch, and I am amused by the way she walks — it looks like she is sleep-walking. After paying my bill and as I leave to exit the restaurant, I tell her of my observation, to which she giggles “oh my gosh”. Adorable.

OK, time for the loooong walk back to the car.

May God fulfill some of your summer dreams this year,

Matthias Leue