We woke this morning to wet snow on the cherry blossoms outside and on the roofs, people with umbrellas, the smell of someone burning something, probably the stone bake house up the road. Dawn got the kids up though I said she shouldn’t, and I tried to go back to sleep but kept hearing the sound of someone breathing, either my own or Dawn’s — then realized it was Eberhard from the other room, so loud it sounded like our own.
He brought me a set of Leki trekking poles and zip-off pants, the same he had in the Alps with us last August, and I found a packet of crushed gum in one pocket and threw it out.
We ended the weekend at a gig by the old church, friends of my mom and John: Sonia is the singer and her partner Terry the manager — they live in Baltimore and can live off Sonia’s music, but they have to tour a lot.
The show was in the Musikschule, a former prison, and Benny’s dad Christoph tells us it was last used for people who opposed Hitler throughout the war. And Sonia and Terry, who are Jewish, sing songs with themes about silent consent, and world peace and acceptance, and we sit there watching and listening on fold-out chairs in a room they probably used as a dungeon, it looks like the inside of a cave, and now instead of rifles around their shoulders, people come and go with violin cases and guitars.
My kids are in the front row with some of the other village kids, all looking starry-eyed at Sonia playing acoustic guitar, belting it out: and Charlotte’s still at an age she’s not self-conscious about carrying dolls around — she has a red-headed one she got in Scotland somewhere she can’t remember, and her legs aren’t long enough to touch the ground yet when she’s sitting, so she swings them back and forth like she’s on a gondola.
On Passover, Sonia and Terry prepare a traditional Jewish seder dinner; I cut a shank bone out of the raw chicken for us to roast (which Ginger later eats) and it has the feeling of old magic, Harry Potter style: and every part of it symbolizes something, and we drink a fair amount of wine, and the kids, grape juice.
When we started home schooling and I was trying to get Lily interested in poetry, I made her watch a Bob Dylan video to see what poetry could really sound like, but she wasn’t into it, the video was in black and white, and she accused me of being old.
But Sonia played “Like a Rolling Stone” for one of her encores, as a sing-along for the chorus, and the kids in the front row got into it (“How does it feel…how does it feel…?“), and Lily looked back at me and smiled, probably thinking the same as me.
Benny told us about his dad’s friend Matthias, the artist in town, whom I’d met once before and I hoped I’d meet again while we were here. He rides a bicycle with asian script painted on the sides and a basket in the front, has a very long beard and round glasses, is gray, around five foot three, and lights up, really glows when he talks, speaks perfect English.
On one of Charlotte’s last days at school we run into Matthias walking up the road and he comments on Charlotte’s outfit, how she’s wearing leopard pants, a leopard jacket, and even has leopard spots on her cheeks, her freckles. He says he once made an etching of a Bob Dylan song “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat,” and I say it’s the 50th anniversary since that record came out, and we should get together.
I’m meeting him in about an hour after I finish my coffee — he has a key to the watch tower but it may be hard to see anything with the snow, which is starting to stick. It’s a funny throwback to a winter we didn’t really have, unusual and exotic, and I’d take pictures of it but my phone is out of space, and we’re leaving the country tomorrow.
I dropped a garbage bag full of clothes in a donation container and said last night to our friends, it would be funny if the next time we came, we saw some refugee kids wearing our kids’ clothes — they’re finishing construction next week on a temporary housing facility by the swimming pool that will hold about 400 people.
Most of my clothes are worn out and not worth donating, but I’m leaving a couple pairs of jeans in my mom’s Schrank to see how well they fit the next time.
When we said goodbye to Benny’s dad Christoph, who keeps bees, he pointed to a hive in his yard where they were milling and said they aren’t able to make honey yet, their generation is just learning to orient themselves. They do a dance where they buzz up and down vertically, like they’re tuning their navigational systems, so they can figure out where to collect the pollen.
And I can’t help but see symbols in things and wonder if all these tiny moments aren’t intended for something greater.