My new blog was going to start something like this: “Poland is a culturally unique country, and fiercely independent in this aspect. It feels very much like Eastern Europe, but its proximity to Germany and the rest of Western Europe separates it from the deep eastern countries, making it a sort of ‘gateway’ country that shares significant aspects with both.” I couldn’t go on.
The first ten days of the tour were very organized and required a great deal of consciousness. There is a certain amount of awareness required for air travel, and the splitting up of days makes them pass in a much more orderly fashion. Once on the bus however, time has little meaning. There are no days of the week, no time of day, no bedtime, no time at all. Life is more about trying to stash enough water in you bunk so that you never run out. It’s about violently seizing any opportunity to use the internet, repeatedly wondering what smells like hot dogs, and wishing that one guy didn’t sweat so profusely. It is constantly searching for a toilet, hoarding food, and being awoken by other peoples’ bodily odors. In short, the life of an animal.
Accordingly, the tone of this blog is changed. Some of the experiences I’ve had so far are noteworthy, but my thoughts about them are, for the most part, too boring to bother with. Warsaw was most likely very interesting, but I was just uninterested. The same goes for Dresden and Schweinfurt. But just as life is different now, so are the moments of pleasure. Now they are little vignettes, nothing to do with the usual places, sights or landmarks – they commonly happen at cafes, sitting silently, people-watching, enjoying a perfect temperature, looking upon nature, or just basking in quiet.
Warsaw didn’t have any of those moments. Neither did Dresden or Schweinfurt. But in Villmar (a small German village) I was able to have a relaxing drink at an outdoor beer garden on the Lahn River. It was a view that would make you want to paint if you didn’t already. The sun was dropping and I was looking down the river, seated at one of its gentle turns. The lengths of its banks were covered in bushes and small deciduous trees, stretching up to a village on the right, and abruptly into a dense forest on the left. Other than the usual humming sound of summer, there was very little noise. The only movement was happening at water level, where little water bugs were illuminated by the falling light, and fish occasionally mustered the gumption to jump lazily.
It was a view that is now my enduring image of natural German beauty. Of course I didn’t have my camera on me. But maybe it’s best left in my mind. Somehow that preserves it, makes it more sacred. At least that’s what I started telling myself when I realized I forgot my camera.