The heart lies somewhere I can’t reach


The old prison, now a music school

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.

IMG_5347I 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.



Categories: musings, travel

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

31 replies

  1. On the cusp then. On your way back home. Where home might seem like a foreign country? Happy travelling, Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Tish, thank you. Weather down from Siberia today or something, quite odd. Good thing I left some of my winter stuff out for next time, next time is now. I’m happy you could join in our fun, and we had our time together too. I’m off to meet the town artist shortly, and draw some inspiration from him. Bye for now, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. safe travels home, and may you find your compass, like the bees


  3. Well, if nothing else, they’re feeding my morning nicely, thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny old, unseasonal weather, Bill, you’re right. Had hailstones the size of Tic Tac mints today, thunder, spots of snow – the lot. Siberia can have it’s weather front back as far as I’m concerned :).
    Lovely, detailed window into your days there. The idea of listening to a Dylan covers in a dim cellar filled with the ghosts of lost generations … A moving thought, at once unnerving and appropriate. Happy travelling 🙂


    • Can’t trust the weather one bit. I tried to have a nice, final walk here this afternoon with the good camera but had to come back early for fear I’d get snowed on, rained on, hailed on, thundered on, hard to tell. Now I’m getting wined on. I’m happy you liked the post and thank you for reading — feel I got to know you some being here on this side of the pond all these months, and appreciate all the tips you had for us in the UK and just reading my posts. Enjoy the rest of your week. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! Wined on – the best kind of ‘on’ there is.:) Bit quieter here today weather wise, but veeery chilly for nearly May.Been a pleasure getting to know you too, Bill, and your writing. I always enjoy your posts – they’re very meditative and take the reader right into the moment as you experienced it. Happy travelling 🙂


  5. Black and white does seem to equate to old, but this morning I caught a little bit of the Marx Brothers on AMC, and they made me feel young somehow. Not “forever young” young, but momentarily anyway.

    Bon voyage, Pearses!


    • That’s very nice of you Kevin, the bon voyage. And from the threads on your posts it sounds like you may have had a birthday recently. Hope you celebrated in style, and enjoy your day. See you back in the States soon. Bill


  6. I wish I could see the poetry of the everyday, the symbols, and the connections between the past and present and the here and now and what might come as well as you do. This was pretty alright. I’m not going to say again that you should wrap a book around this trip, but I’ll quote Wooderson from Dazed & Confused and say it’d be pretty cool if you did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not as much fun without cool people like you reading my writing Walt. Thank you. I’m glad you liked it and thank you for the compliment. Just finished transferring data (photos, music) for my mom; it’s my last night here. Got the kids and Dawn off this morning and next, it’s the dog and cat and all my little treasures, squirreled away in a North Face bag. Talk to you on the flipside, my friend…thanks for being here with me. Bill


      • I feel like you’ve been saying tonight’s your last night for like a week, now. My timeline is all jacked up. Anyhoo, safe travels. It was hard for me to come home because I didn’t want to, but sounds like while you enjoyed your adventures, you miss home a bit and are ready to be back. Have a safe trip.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you buddy.


  7. Looking forward to your return and been fun vicariously living this with you, but without the direct connection it all leaves me jealous of your experiences, building a resentment I fear might come out in some Seattle passive aggressive way. Coincidentally, we have built two hives in the backyard, and are expecting the two queens and supporting cast any day now. I have tried to connect your title of this piece with the ideas in it, and am struggling. The conclusion I am reaching is that by heart you mean not the love space in your chest, but rather the fine core of the matter that you step around with a dozen details, but never reach with enough substance to spell it out for those with such a lack of imagination they have not already found personal meaning..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Brad, thanks for trying to connect the title. I can’t honestly correlate it in a way that’s fair to the reader. I will see you soon, I hope. Glad to hear about your hives. Weathers looking mighty good there this weekend, looking forward to there being here. Bill


    • By the way Brad, your interpretation is quite brilliant. Thanks for taking the time to thumb it. See you soon.


  8. Well worth a reprise since I seem to have missed this post first time around. Amazing to think it’s a year since your Europe safari concluded. I really like the finale with the directorial lens on the bee action. Good also have a backward glimpse of your time in Germany. Happy Friday to you too, Bill.


  9. A feel good post. Love the last line on small things to create the extraordinary. Love happiness and hope you brought in this beautiful writing.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. ‘The heart lies somewhere I can’t reach’ | William Pearse | pinklightsabre

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