What we saw once in the future

Protecting young crops from frost (Besigheim, Germany)

Protecting young crops from frost (Besigheim, Germany)

When mom wakes and sees Eberhard’s bed lamp is still on she goes downstairs and finds him at the table with a bunch of dead roots, a screwdriver and a bottle of Port that’s half empty or half full, depending on how you see things.

We’ve decided it’s time for an intervention with him and the dead root art, the stumps he’s been collecting on walks to the vineyard with my mom and arranging in vaguely artistic poses, now using a jig saw at his apartment to make bases and mount them in the window sills but they don’t stand up literally or figuratively, they just look like a bunch of sticks and roots tangled up hoping to be something more than they are.

We agree it’s sweet but he shouldn’t have been encouraged, and brainstorm how we’ll broach it with him to stop, how we’ll explain why they’ve disappeared, the fact the cat kept knocking them over or it would be hard for the cleaning lady to work around them, or we just needed to let more light in the windows, which is all true.

Dawn points out that different people express their love differently, you can divide them into categories, and with Eberhard, it’s one of service, made worse with the dead root art because he’s Swabian, notoriously cheap, and for the cost of a screw he can make art.

Mom tells the story of a time he gave her what she assumed to be a present, concealed in a small jewelry box as you might find a pair of earrings but instead it was a tooth, like from his mouth, and mom didn’t know what to say or do, to interpret it as a joke or what, but when she looked up his face didn’t change and he didn’t say anything, so she just gave it back and they never talked about it again.

Now that we’ve been to the Frankfurt airport four times in just a few weeks and taking Dawn to the Bahnhof this morning with her mom, for a two week tour of Italy, everything’s a foreshadowing to our leaving next month, nothing looks the same; I’m starting to take pictures to remember small details, collecting things to remind me of what it’s like here when I’m back there, in the States.

There was a time I imagined being here for several years, a picture of the village taken from the vineyards above, a ticket stub from the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland: I kept these pictures pinned to the fabric of my cube at work so I could see them looking at my computer and dream of a future when we’d come back and spend more time here, as we have since late July. And the pictures at my desk were like some secret that meant nothing to anyone else, like a riddle I thought would reveal some greater truth to me that hasn’t still.

In the morning when the first birds stir the river’s the same color as the sky, it takes the light and reflects it back, takes whatever we put into it out of sight, could carry us on its back if we wanted.

And even the birds sound unsure in their song, like it gets stuck in their throat and they lose the thread, and have to start again. Even if life’s disappointing to see it as more than it is I think it’s better to imagine there’s something more in the sticks and the roots. The future and the past are as real as a distant mirage, they’re both perfect looking ahead or behind.

Categories: musings, travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. I love the tooth thing. He sounds like a tortured soul, but perhaps he really is just cheap. Sad that you’re leaving but you’ll adjust and will probably continue to see things half empty and half full in equal measure

    Liked by 1 person

  2. interesting to see one’s gifts, one’s acts of service. each of us exposes our soul in myriad ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eberhard sounds just like the kind of character one would want to think they imagined and wrote. There is something childlike in seeing beauty where others don’t – it reminded me of the years my daughter would collect rocks. They look liked ordinary rocks to everyone else, but she could tell you about the divots or sparkles or grain of each one. Or perhaps there is something about retrieving the rejected and useless and making it be something more. There’s a lot that could be divined from this vignette.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you see that Michelle, thanks: you are spot on. He is childlike in the most wondrous way, a lot more of a man than I will ever be, to be fair. I’m glad you liked the post and connected with it. — Bill


  4. I like this new aspect of Eberhard’s character you’ve revealed in this. I wouldn’t have expected it, based on what’s come before. He is something else. And it’s strange to think of you coming back. I remember when you left, all those months ago, I was excited for you but also selfishly a bit fearful that we’d lose you from this place. Now that the time for you to return is approaching, I’m again a bit concerned we might… lose you. We need you out there, out here, somewhere, reminding us not to see life as more than it is but rather what it is that we don’t see, the depth and the connections we too often miss.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a really heavy comment, man. Thank you for it. I don’t often get stumped but I think I’ll take a break from the chatter and just sit with this, thank you. I’ll keep gumming the edges until they’re good and soft, no worries there. Seems all the windows, figurative and literal, are quite open now. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post! Something about ol’ Eberhard and his roots brought a tear to my eye. Don’t come back to the States! Things have gone to shit, the whore of Babylon is about to do battle with the Anti-Christ Trump Card, chaos, cannibalism, Mad Max Beyond Thunder-Dome, that’s all that awaits your here. Stay with Eberhard, have him teach the ways of the root! But then again American apocalypse, will probably be good for the writing, and the existential development and all that. Sometimes you got to look the drooling beast in the mouth, and say hope you packed a lunch! America!

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    • Yes, this sounds like you quote from The Book of CNN. Something about a leaning tower of Babel too, I think. The Sodom and Gomorrah of our time, now. Thanks for the well wishes but I need to come back to the States, now more than ever. It’s a kind of communal sense of grieving I feel, and I need to be there with my people even though my instinct is to flee for Canada, as others have joked. But I’ll wait until they start destroying art and putting people in brown uniforms, and then I’ll make plans, one-way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amen to that. Like I think we have talked about before, apocalypses happening everyday. What’s scary about our current situation is this weird, satirical, Mad-TV, bent which reality has taken. As readers/writers I think you start to see the bend, trend, of the story lines (real world and otherwise), and unfortunately the foreshadowing of our timeline does not bode well. But same time this disappearing line between Fact and Fiction, does allow for a certain kind of freedom doesn’t it?
        Sorry for the ramble, “out-their” comments, sort of sparked by your previous post too about the iPad eatery, and just this overall feeling of being in Oz or something. It’s nice to feel the realness and authenticity you bring in your writing. I wrote this short story called “Kill The Television”, about this thirteen year old kid that decides to start breaking into people’s house and destroying their big screen, with a samurai sword no less, which he is gifted from one of those bodega type things, they have in the malls on the bad side of town. The irony is, I do think we need to kill these screens, but if we did that interactions like this would never be had, and there would be a little something sad in that. Oh Babylon! What a sweet little tooth ache you are. Have a great day friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You say a lot here, thanks for it. It’s a dense burrito: I especially like the disappearing line between Fact and Fiction as you say, and the Oz reference. It’s gone beyond the format for me. My dog is sitting here groaning in the dark by the candlelight for some reason and we’re impersonating her, doing the same. Art imitates life. Over and out.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think Eberhard might be on to something with his roots. As others are saying here, the U.S. has a weird feel to it these days, and barricading myself in the house and making root art might be just the ticket. When in doubt, turn inward!

    “…like a riddle I thought would reveal some greater truth to me that hasn’t still.” Love that line!


    • After reading that story about the Harper Lee book in your post, I wanted to suggest maybe it’s time to just go camping for a few days there in the Sierra foothills and turn it all off. Seems we’re caught in a bad news cycle. Go listen to the pines, take a good Red and some fire starter. Bill


  7. Eberhard. He has cloven hooves, I’m certain of it.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. What we saw once in the future | I am jack's torrid affair with words

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