Do you know what it’s like to travel somewhere you’ve never been before and it feels like you’ve come home?
Walking the streets of my father’s home town of Waldkirch, in the Black Forest of Germany, I feel “home.” While subtle, it’s not the first time I’ve had this feeling. Five years ago my parents gifted my sister and me with an invitation to accompany them to Germany. From the moment we landed in Frankfurt and many times during, I had the “oh this is why I am the way I am” response to seeing the country and experiencing its people. A penny had dropped down deep.
It was a dreary, grey, rainy day when I landed in Frankfurt early Thursday morning. Grateful for the non-eventful flight with a fairly spacious bulkhead, aisle seat, and slender row-mate on his way from Calgary to Albania, within a half hour I was on an early high-speed train to Freiburg, the cosmopolitan city fifteen minutes from Waldkirch. Immediately I was struck again, as I had been that initial visit, by the impeccably neat and clean landscape. A marked contrast to the mess revealed by spring thaw and melting snows in our parts.
Last visit, cyclists with their upright posture, panniers and baskets plied with fresh market groceries and flowers, inspired me to get my own European version last summer, helping me live lighter. I “get” how and why people address each other by surname, unless and until the nature of relationship, would indicate otherwise. Again a contrast to our presumption of familiarity. I like seeing people of all ages out and about making daily physical activity the norm. The year round farmers’ market in the markplatz… standard size refrigerators that don’t hold more than a week’s worth of food…kaffee und kuchen in the afternoon…the Christmas butter cookies that brought tears to my eyes reminding me of my Oma…kirschwasser schnapps that takes my breath away with its pure and potent essence of cherries.
Since my arrival I’ve been blessed with kindness of strangers and embraced by my father’s childhood friends. From the Lufthansa agent who kindly arranged for me to have my larger and heavier suitcase delivered so I could manage myself on the train (how I’d manage my luggage had been a source of worry early in the planning phase), to Saturday’s traditional luncheon with friends, to the moment-by-moment practical advice and interventions by our “German sister”, BellaThea, my home-base hostess for the duration. I am home.