My sister went to visit our parents on Easter.
I could not go because I am too sick to travel, but I asked her to take a walk with our mother along one very specific trail in the forest and send me lots of pics.
The first image she mailed me was this one, though, and it is such a perfect mirror of our childhood that it made me shudder a little.
What you see here is the apartment building where we moved after we had to leave the dreamy little house in the woods. And yes, you are right, what a culture shock. We came here when I was twelve or so, and my sister a pre-schooler, and moved into a two bedroom place on the 10th floor.
The view was spectacular.
In the far distance, the towers of Frankfurt can be seen. They are amazing and glamorous; it's not called "Mainhattan" for nothing. And still further away, in the distant blue haze, as it were, you can see the Taunus mountains. "Where The Rich People Are".
Everything in between is called "Offenbach". The Jersey of Frankfurt. Which is "at home" for my sister and me. We both attended this high school, the sis with great success, while I was kicked out in grade 11 and had to go somewhere else to get my graduation.
Of that, I've talked already. And yes, this is really a school building. Not kidding you. the arcades in the front? Washrooms. Seriously.
Did you read my blog about our time in Brazil? Here is a memory piece. I had not noticed it in a long while, but now that the sis photographed it, it brought back some memories. It has been hanging in my parent's hallway for nearly forty years.
So after lunch, my mother and my sister went for a hike on that forest trail.
You may not be able to imagine it, but it begins right behind that monstrous apartment building.
As ugly as that concrete nightmare may be, once you step outside and turn left, you'll find yourself on a slope of grass that leads down to the little river. If you follow it upwards you will have to cross a street and a parking lot, and when you turn around, you'll see this:
I know. Ugly.
But look at it this way: Creativity needs pressure.
This was one of my favorite parts in "Brave New World", where the hero, a writer, gets to choose where he will go into exile, and he says he wants a rough place, because a soft setting would not motivate him to write. Just maybe, between those beehives in the background and the concert venue in the front, my personal need for a fantasy world, in other words, making up stories.
At that time, a Canadian TV show was running on one of our channels that I loved very much.
It was about a hotel on Lake Huron, somewhere near Sudbury, and I wanted to be there, very badly.
Reminds your of something? Yes, I've come full circle.
Back to that forest walk.
We used to come here often. From a very uninspiring dirt area, you enter a fairy realm. the amazing part is, it has not changed one bit since I was a child.
It looks a lot prettier in summer, when the trees are green and the ground is covered with those tiny white flowers of which I don't know the name and the path is dry and not a mud-slide.
The forest, once you have left the streets behind, looks like this.
A typical, German forest in early spring, and my Mom in a red jacket.
To this spot my grandfather used to take us when we were kids. Here, the creek widens and is very shallow. You can't see it right now because of the leaves, but there is actually a kind of sand beach here. We came here for picnics and lazy, hot afternoons.
A walk of twenty minutes from that high rise, and we found ourselves in another world.
I find it oddly reassuring that this little part of the world has not changed at all. It is as if a part of my childhood, and a good one at that, has survived, carved into the stone of time to remind me of my grandparents and how life with them used to be.
A lot of things in Offenbach and Frankfurt have changed, many places have vanished.
The huge white mansion that was my birth clinic, a condo building now. Or maybe even torn down, I don't know. The center of town, taken over by dime stores and Turkish bazars, no longer a small German city center at all. Frankfurt, an international, cosmopolitan metropolis with all the famous designer stores and glitzy restaurants.
But this little corner of forest, curiously unmolested.
Not cut down for cultivation, not altered, nothing. It is just the way it used to be fifty years ago.
In my eyes, a small miracle.