Eight More Weeks

I have eight more of sabbatical, six of which are in Europe. When I got up this morning I realized there’s two more days of Winzerfest too, which is too long for a wine festival. It is fascinating to observe, however: at 3:30 a.m. I looked outside, and there were clumps of people teeming down below, in every direction. We did hear broken glasses occasionally, and the obvious drunken laughter, but overall it feels very civilized. I appreciate the fact that you get your quiche on a ceramic plate, and when you return the plate you get your 2 euro deposit back. It’s better than paper plates and cups strewn everywhere in the streets. Instead, it’s just cigarette butts and random, squashed fruit or vegetables. It will be nice to have our village back though, come Tuesday.

Germanwings has something called a “blind booking” fare, where you pay 20 euro one-way for a plane ticket, but you don’t find out where you’re going until after you’ve paid the fare. You pick from groups of cities with themes such as “Culture,” “Western Metropolis,” or “Party,” and can exclude a city from the listing for a small, extra charge. For example, if we choose “Culture” we will likely exclude Barcelona since we’ve both been there. Dawn and I may do this for late October, and see where the roulette wheel takes us.

In our time here, I’ve been trying to learn more about the differences between European and American culture. There are obvious differences in attitude about things, and I get occasional glimpses that show where we diverge, as people.

Yesterday, Lily was sitting out on the front stoop while I prepared dinner. I was on point, so I would occasionally check to make sure she hadn’t wandered off into the festival. The second time I did this, she was standing in the doorway with another little girl, both of them just smiling. The girl spoke no English, and Lily spoke no German. We found the girl’s parents, and learned they were setting up the Prosecco stand up the street. So their two kids wound up hanging out with our kids for the next few hours, playing inside and chasing each other around. Their parents came by to check once, but they really didn’t seem concerned with the situation. I think we would be as mellow in the states under similar circumstances, but the parents here just seem more laid-back. They don’t “hover” like we do. Dawn and I think kids might learn about responsibility and consequences more if they’re given opportunities to be on their own like this, and treated from a place of trust rather than fear. Who knows…it is hard (and dangerous) to generalize. I just like the laid-back part.

Last night after dinner I volunteered to stay behind as the others went out into the festival. The streets are crowded, the wine is not that good, and I am content to remain on the periphery, in my mom’s driveway. We have it cordoned off with various plants, wooden carts, a broken down bench, and some piece of medieval farming machinery. To all those who wander past, we’re trying to send the message “leave us alone, please.” On two occasions, I’ve been confronted by people who know my mom or John, who have broken through the barrier and approached me.

Friday night it was Cyrie, the daughter of my mom’s vet Dirk, with her five girlfriends from Mannheim. I led them up the street to where my mom was rocking out to Uwe’s band, “Rockfever.”

Last night, it was the wife of the alcoholic dentist who lived and died in this house before we bought it. She left him, and when he died, their three teenagers lived here on their own. This may be one of the reasons my mom and John could afford the house, because it was in such a state of disuse, from the teenagers. They had a motorcycle they worked on in the one room upstairs, and got engine grease all over the carpet. The upstairs bedrooms had strange, cult-like things painted on the walls; these send bad messages to would-be buyers.

My mom and John were visiting Besigheim when they learned their house in France had sold. That same day, they saw this house was up for sale – the price was the same as what they got for the house in France – and so they made an offer on it, having only seen it from the outside. The offer was accepted, and from there on they put a lot of money and work into renovating the interior. Because it’s an historic house, they were required to use a certain kind of tile roofing material, which was very expensive. The house has a barn next to it which is massive, and could be converted into a living area or shop. They also have an old cellar below, which is dated 1575.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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