Those four simple words came straight from my heart, out of my mouth, with no consideration or mediation from my brain.
I was standing at the Kastelburg, Waldkirch’s famous medieval castle, taking in the springtime beauty of the panorama before me. Red tile roofs on top of the mostly whitewashed buildings. The church steeple. Emerald green pastures. The Black Forest mountains covered in a pathch work of dark green spruce and the vibrant green of new-growth leaves. A handglider’s striped sail floating across the soft blue sky. Whisps of white cloud.
I had just made the rather steep climb with our family friend, G. She of seventy-five years, who set the breath-taking pace, only the beginning of what became a three hour trek through the Black Forest, mountain meadows, farmers’ pastures and villages.
I spoke my truth. I am happy here. That simple, that pure.
Over the last two months I’ve traveled many miles to several countries to witness beauty, God and human created. During my last trip to Italy I experienced “heaven” several times: on the coast, mountains, terraces and harbours of the Cinque Terre; in the Tuscan hills outside of Siena; and during my last train ride through the Swiss Alps…this time with its snow-capped peaks and glaciers dazzling against the blue sky, forest and pastures lush and verdant with new foliage, the quintessential dairy cows resting in the grass. I’ve seen buildings, monuments, statuary and art that have rendered me speechless and brought tears to my eyes. I’ve tasted food and wine that have made gustatory memories. I’ve enjoyed, been delighted, enthralled, challenged, befriended. And here, back in my father’s homeland is where I am, quite simply, purely, happy.
I arrived “home” on Saturday. “BellaThea” fetched me from Freiburg and we made the quick trip back to Waldkirch to rendezvous with G and her husband, one of my father’s longest-time friends. We drove over the mountains to participate in the presentation and celebration of a restored statue for a farmer’s chapel in Siegelau.
With a combination of reverence and play, several couples made the presentation of St.Florian’s statue to the “frau” and her family, who then led the procession into the almost two hundred year old chapel, for its revered placement above the altar. We then proceeded to a set table in the farmhouse and enjoyed several hours worth of the one of the best meals: homemade rye bread, its dark crust crisp, inside soft and light; homemade fresh sweet butter – that could be enough for me. But no, speck (a smoked pork) served in chunks that we sliced thinly to eat with the bread. Liverworst, bloodworst, cornichons und paprika (pickles and red peppers), another smoked sausage. Applewine, sparkling water and three varieties of schnapps. A bit of this, a bite of that, another round of schnapps. Then dessert and coffee. A spring favourite: rhubarb kuchen, its green tartness made sweet by a thin frosting of crisp meringue. Everything fresh, homemade from farm-grown ingredients. “Slow food” at its best.
“Your father sat in the same place,” I was told. And he had as good a time as I.
I am happy here.