Jul 10, 2009
last morning in kandern
That morning, the last morning of our trip, I sat on the balcony of our Ferienwohnung, our vacation rental, drinking in the sounds and sights along with my black coffee. I wouldn't be back here for a long time. If ever. I cradled my cup with both my hands, feeling the warmth of the liquid, inhaled deeply and brought the black drink to my lips. The song bird who woke me up with its sweet music had moved farther away and I strained to hear it above the chirping of the others. I regretted now rolling over and going back to sleep instead of listening to her song. Still, I'd gotten up earlier than the others and I relished my time with the chirping birds and the far away song bird. They sang to me of the morning sun. Soon they were joined by the ringing of the church bells in the center of town. When I called this part of the world home, I had always imagined the clock bells teasing me, saying "oh-oh" as they told me fifteen minutes had past. "Oh-oh, oh-oh, Now it's half past," they'd laugh. I'd lay in my bed counting the bells until I fell asleep. "Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh. Gong! Gong! It's two o'clock and you're not sleeping." Now, though, the bells in the church's clock tower rang out like beautiful music. Their peals bounced off the surrounding hills and echoed through the streets of Kandern. Each morning and each evening they sang this song. I was told once that long ago the church bells rang out twice daily to signal to the farmers the start and end to the work day. Or perhaps it was to call them in for the meal. I don't remember. Either way I benefitted from this signal of a time gone by. In front of me the red tile roofs rose in forty-five degree angles from the stucco homes piled on top of each other, rising from the narrow streets. No sidewalks. No yards, save an occasional garden. I heard the car's loud engine before I saw it. A Smart Car. It turned the corner and stopped by the house directly under me. "Why do they call it a smart car," Kaitlin asked. "Well, because they are... smart," I replied. The smart cars would look so awkward on wide American streets, yet in Germany they fit right in on the narrow streets and in the tight parking spots. On our drive to Kandern from the Basel train station I saw a smart car parked perpendicular in a parallel parking spot; they're that small. As I took another sip of coffee, the door of the little black car popped open and out spilled a boy, maybe John's age, who stood, held the car door open and looked toward the house. German words suddenly filled the air and from the house – I bent forward to see – ran a girl with a brown pony tail and a red backpack. She waved towards the house as she slid herself into the back seat. The boy unfolded the front seat and got back into the car. "Auf Weidersehen!" Goodbyes were yelled, then off the smart car sped to school. It was just the birds and me once more. My eyes rose to the hills behind the red tile roofs and stayed there. The morning mist hugged the green trees making each layer of mountains a lighter hue as they faded into the distance. Whenever I see mountains in the distance I think of Mrs. Williamson and her look of horror as she first glimpsed the purple mountains I painted for the scenery of the high school play my junior year. For some reason I thought mountains were majestic purple. Above a fruited plain. It made sense, after all. I smiled as I took another slow sip of my coffee. Mom came through the door of the balcony with her coffee in hand. "Good morning," she said as she found a seat and joined me. One of my most treasured memories is mom waking me up each morning in Holzen with a cup of coffee. When I was a junior and senior here at Black Forest Academy, I had two old German wooden beds with tall headboards and footboards. She would hand me my cup of coffee, then sit back against my footboard with hers. We'd sit like that every morning and talk about anything and everything. Today was no different. Except that it was my last morning in Kandern. I took another sip of coffee and drank the beauty of the scenery and the sweetness of the memories in. They would have to last me a long time.