Heat Returns to Paris and Berlin

AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather.com

Eberhard and I drove to the Hexenplatz, by the windmill, where you can dump yard waste and pick up compost, for free. Not sure why it’s called Hexenplatz, because Hexen means witchcraft, or miracle-making.

The weekly Gemüse delivery came too, an arrangement my mom worked out with the Croatian tailor up the street, who suggested to a group of organic farmers they might rent space from her to store their vegetables, for a co-op of about a dozen locals.

The small root cellar is off the barn, and stays cool despite the intense heat; it feels like someone left the refrigerator door open.

A small lock on the door remains unlatched for the co-op members to help themselves each Mittwoch

A small lock on the door remains unlatched for the co-op members to help themselves each Mittwoch

Note the date painted on the door

Note the date painted on the door

Members help themselves to their allotment, weigh their items and sign out

Members help themselves to their allotment, weigh their items and sign out

They can leave unwanted items in a bin for other members or for my mom

They can leave unwanted items in a bin for other members or for my mom

As part of moving to Europe we decided for some reason the kids should have more responsibility now, and be allowed to walk around the village by themselves (with one another), to the bakery, for ice cream, or down to the playground, which we can see from my mom’s house.

They are practicing their Deutsch, and write down the words on a piece of paper for the people at the bakery. Yesterday, I sent them up the road to get me an ice cream, for .90 euros.

Lily (10) wants permission to take walks by herself, which we won’t allow until they can prove they know the area and can be trusted. On the weekends, the Stadt closes off the main part of town as a pedestrian-only zone, and it seems nothing that happens here goes unnoticed, with the people in the village constantly keeping an eye out, and exchanging news with one another. If someone is sick or having a hard time, word gets out and people chip in to support one another.

We’ve gone to the swimming pool most days, a 15 minute walk from my mom’s, with a number of features: a fat slide that goes right into the pool, a mushroom-shaped fountain you can stand under to massage your back and neck, a large, grown-up pool with diving boards, a walk-up bar with wine, beer, sausages…all for 11 euros a day, for a family rate.

Mom and I dissected the lyrics to the Zombies seminal album Odessey and Oracle, noting the Shakespeare reference on the song ‘Brief Candles,’ also quoted in the film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which they’re showing in an open-air kino here next week.

When Dawn and I saw the movie on a date night we talked about the uncertainty and fear that comes with going out on a limb to do something you really want, that’s risky. We talked about Carver’s story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and a writing course Dawn took where the professor shared the unedited version of the story with the strike-through, a lesson in the power of editing that reveals about half of the story reduced down to one line, with nothing lost. And we were surprised and delighted to walk into the movie and discover the premise is a Broadway adaptation of the same Carver story, just thrust right into the weirdness and mind of the film, its surreal twists and turns on and offstage.

I thought originally it was just going to be me and Eberhard going to the Austrian alps, and liked the idea of bonding with him, but then learned my mom was going also, which seemed to exclude Dawn, so we talked about it again with Eb and he offered to get rooms for all of us and now we’re all going, with him leading the way in his motorbike and us following in the Mazda.

Eberhard leading a cavalcade before he retired from die Polizei

Eberhard leading a cavalcade before he retired from die Polizei

Dawn and I took the long walk this morning through the forest behind the vineyards, discovered a new route on Reuthweg, a Christmas tree farm and a place where kids from local schools plant trees with signs listing the species and dates, some reminding us of trees back home, in Washington. There are knotted blackberry vines and the soft crackle of power lines overhead, an old cabin with a woodpile, a large handmade picnic bench, an empty beer bottle with a faded label.

Europe is hot as hell the next two days and I’ve shut the windows down, gotten tangled in the fly paper, and think we’ll book a room for Weimar for Dawn and myself, for Sunday.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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15 Responses to Heat Returns to Paris and Berlin

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Life seems more gentle there (?) Love your mom’s root cellar and the cooperative it hosts.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hi Tish – yes, would like to think it’s more gentle. But on our walk this morning it appears someone may have tried to break in to my mom’s kellar, from 1544. Hard to tell. Our friend Eberhard (whose surname is dungeon master, auf Deutsch) will have a look. I thought of you when I was taking those pictures of the root cellar, and wishing I had your eye for photography. I shot some of the aubergines in a basket but it didn’t look as appealing as the vegetables from your place! It’s a great setup: my mom doesn’t charge them rent to use her space and gets to take as many vegetables as she likes in return. There’s some leafy vegetable that’s like chard we’re going to sautee tonight. Good times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tish Farrell says:

        I’ve been mulling over your mention of Raymond Carver and all the editing that went on. It puts one in a bit of quandary, given that it was his editor who apparently edited all his work so tightly. In a way it makes one wonder which one is actual the storyteller, which in turn is a bit worrying on the creative front. On the other hand, its a powerful lesson to learn, that ruthless cutting will usually make for a better piece of work. One of my problems is that I try to cut as I go along – which is most contrary – in the stopping and starting that goes on in consequence. Happy writing though.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Ah, I don’t know about Carver and the editor-as-storyteller-source-of-truth thing. I don’t know about these things, but find it curious and a real testament to the power of the editor in this instance. You could liken it to George Martin and the Beatles maybe, the ‘arranger.’ I don’t know how much it’s about cutting, I have to learn all this myself. I do find in my writing I’ve made the mistake of rewriting such that I’ve ruined it and gotten disgusted with it, and a painter friend of mine, who documents his paintings with iPhone photos as he’s progressing through them, has lamented going too far such that if he knew when to stop, and stopped then, it would have been right. It’s what makes it so magical and mysterious. I’m looking forward to having tea with you or something, in January.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tish Farrell says:

        That would be lovely. Tea by the woodburner then.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Say no more.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ksbeth says:

    it all sounds lovely, with a much slower pace and a trusting community.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yes, we’re just lucky we’re not working right now. It’s a real treat, a real indulgence (real unusual, too). My wife has the occasional conference call now, as she’s peeling off her contracts from the States. We’ve fallen into the habit of afternoon ice creams at an Italian place up the street, followed by a nap and then an Aperol spritzer around 4. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve all this, just trying to enjoy it as much as possible and share with my friends out here in the Interwebs. Thanks for visiting Beth, you early-riser you. Now I’m getting a sense of who’s online when, as I’m posting at odd times in the GMT. Or whichever zone we’re in, now.

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  3. You’re going to laugh but I stole a page from Gordon Lish long ago and apply it to my blog posts. First, I write it out. Then I go back to the front and slash, slash, slash. I hack away as much as humanly possible. Most of it is just me trying to show off. After that, I wait a day. Then I go back and slash some more. Then I post it. I work bloody hard on those stupid posts.

    Nice work here. I’m a sucker for a well-written travelogue.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Well your posts go down like tonic water, so the hard work pays off. I do enjoy editing too, but sometimes I just get disgusted rereading my posts and have to walk away. I don’t know if you ever saw that piece, I think it was featured in a 2007 New Yorker, where Tess Gallagher published that version of the story with the strikethrough. There’s something really meaningful to me I haven’t quite figured out, about how to distance yourself from what you write yet still deliver it in a personal fashion. Like it has to be a part of you to sound intimate and real, but you can’t get too attached to it either. That line “kill your babies” applies, I think. I’m glad you’re a sucker for the travelogue because I have a barn-full of it coming down the pipe, glad you’re enjoying it Mark.

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  4. Gregg Johnson says:

    sounds like you’re all settling in well….I think of you often, and am so happy for your family, Bill!

    best,

    gregg

    gregg s johnson cell: 206.399.3066 email: gregg@greggsjohnson.com

    >

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Oh, thanks Gregg. Was thinking about you today too, and grateful for the time we had together this summer. This time gives us a chance to think about how we want to do things differently and one for me is making more time for good friends like you guys. Here’s to that, and ‘deeds, not words.’ Cheers – Bill

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  5. rossmurray1 says:

    I missed far more posts than I thought.

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