It’s Tuesday (and it takes time and some discussion for each of us to confirm we’re right about the day of the week). I calculated we have about 10 weeks left here exactly, which means 12 more weeks for me on sabbatical – not bad.
This past weekend, I got my first pangs of feeling disconnected from everyone else I know in the U.S., including those at work. That’s surprising when you think about it, but it happened last time I lived here, in 1998. I genuinely missed my home and everyone I know there.
It’s also showing signs of autumn here, with the first indications that summer’s winding down. We’ve been picking blackberries on our daily long walk, and observing the crops as they progress: turnips, corn, and today, two farmers picking potatoes out of the dirt. They explained how they’d make potato salad out of them, but that’s all we could understand with our limited German.
On Saturday we went to Sindelfingen, which is near Stuttgart, to meet my mom’s friend Barbara and procure a GPS from her that she bought for my mom. Barbara is a civilian who works for the U.S. Army here in Germany, and she gets discounts on electronics and other items like this. The GPS works throughout Europe and the U.S.; the other one my mom has only works in Germany. So this will come in handy when we travel to France next week.
There’s a market in Sindelfingen on Saturdays, and we bought some fruits, vegetables, bread, jams, and French cheeses there. There’s also a bouncy-house for the kids, but Charlotte got slammed in it by a little boy, and that dampened the mood. We had a coffee, and headed back to Besigheim to prepare for the heu-fest that evening. This is an annual party thrown by our friend Christoph (Benny’s dad) on a plot of land in the woods, near the Neckar river. It’s actually close to the long walk we take each day with our flat-coat retriever, Merlin.
The party started with cake and coffee – which seems inverted to me, as an American, where things often end with cake and coffee – and after the cake, we had a champagne toast. They sang a song in German as we held our glasses in the air, then we drank and moved on to the lighting of the coals, for the barbecue. Christoph is a retired history teacher who used to be married to an American woman, Georgia, who was also at the party. He’s now with a German woman named Hanne.
Lily befriended another girl her age, Emma-Lou, and they followed each other around for the next five hours or so, until the end of the evening when everyone started to get sleepy around the campfire, singing songs and playing guitar. I met several of Christoph’s friends: there was no light conversation, which I appreciated. I asked Bruno where he was born and he laughed, then went on for a solid 15 minutes to tell me about his time growing up in World War II in Poland, how they fled the area with no papers, no money, and landed in Ludwigsburg (10 minutes from Besigheim).
Astrid (Bernard’s wife) explained how she and her husband Bernard travelled from Germany to Hungary via horse-drawn cart this past May, which took several weeks, then Bernard suffered a heartattack there, requiring them to travel back to Germany via hangar with the horses. Bernard brought bows he made by hand, and an alpenhorn which we all took turns playing, including Lily, who was actually able to make sounds with it, from her little lungs.
Sunday, Dawn and my mom painted the office while I kept the girls entertained at the pool. I cooked the pasta carbonara that night using noodles and zucchini I got at the market in Sindelfingen, and olive oil from Tuscany.