We are home from Germany. We actually got back over a week ago, but much of last week consisted of unpacking, doing laundry, adjusting to the six-hour time difference, and squeezing in some pool time with friends and then “just us” over the weekend to celebrate Father’s Day.
I took over 500 photos on our trip, but today, let me tell you about the photos I did not take. Because here’s the deal: It is truly impossible to capture every special moment with a camera or weed through all those photos if it is not your full-time job. Why would one even want to try? For there is a danger of missing out on the moment itself that might pass by if only seen through a camera lens. Instead let me create imagery through words as I try to capture a few life memories through other lenses — the lenses of our mind, the lenses of our eyes, and the lenses of our hearts.
My moments include family time in Germany, and I hope through words these moments will come alive for you. When you finish reading, try to see if you can think of moments in your own life that you may not necessarily have a physical photo of, but a thought or a feeling or a journal entry makes you remember just the same.
1) A spontaneous happy hour on my brother-in-laws back patio. We were all there – Oma, Opa, Joerg, Peggy, Nina, Jan, me, Lance, and Vivi. The air was warm and cool all at the same time. A kind of long skirt and a three-quarter length sweater weather for me… just right… not too hot, not too cold… the kind of temperature I like. The beer was refreshing and the atmosphere and adult conversation was light. Lance and Nina took turns running around the yard looking at bunnies, chasing the cat (mostly Lance) and entertaining us on the monkey bars (mostly Nina). Vivian alternated between snoozing in the Kinderwagen (stroller) and occasionally looked around and smiled at anyone who looked her way.
2) Eating dinner at an authentic and small venue German restaurant in the village of Jan’s parents called Ulf’s Scheune (barn). The restaurant is basically run as a hobby by a retired man who fixed up an old barn with unique style and care that only a retired person has time and inspiration to create. Beer steins decorated the walls, the woodwork inside was altogether eye-catching, the neat tables lined with table runners and flowers were inviting, the new plush chairs were name-calling upon entrance, the small bar and kitchen area were homey, and a projector and big screen on the wall was brilliant for watching soccer. A true fixer-upper establishment. The work and detail Ulf put into the place were so evident it made you want to sit and relax the night away with no rush and always have time to drink “just one more beer.” The outside included a delightful beer garden furnished with hand-carved wooden tables and bright yellow umbrellas.
3) Attending a Berlin wedding the weekend before we flew home. I do have a few photos from the occasion, but picture this in your mind: A beautiful (and stunning and gorgeous and radiant and glowing) bride named Bea and a handsome (and goofy and quirky and smiley and smart) groom named Felix. The wedding took place at an old church in Berlin. After the wedding, champagne and hot pretzels greeted guests right outside the church doors as family and friends toasted the newly wed couple. The warm sun peeked out from behind the clouds that covered so much of Germany over the prior weeks leading up to the wedding. So fitting since part of their ceremony included a guitar solo of Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles. I just love symbolic moments that always seem to surface at weddings. Love is good.
The reception was held in a gorgeous banquet room overlooking a lake. One of my favorite festive moments of the night was when Bea and Felix lit tea candles in the shape of a heart mounted on a large wooden board equipped with child-sized rubber tubes. After all the guests wrote a brief message inside the heart, everyone accompanied the couple out to the lake and set the heart afloat. All those twinkling candles were beautiful in the dark night.
The morning after the wedding I walked back to the lake with Jan’s parents, Lance, and Vivian to play on the playground and walk around the lake. It was fun to watch passersby and people swimming in the lake stop to look at the heart. To see their smiles as they read the messages inside the heart, still afloat not far from the shore, and know that we were part of that special celebration – a union of hearts.
Later that night, the night before we flew home, we dined outdoor at an Italian restaurant in the vicinity of our hotel. After dinner I pulled out a mason jar filled with applesauce – a wedding favor from Bea and Felix that I had purposely tucked in my purse. We passed it around the table all taking a taste (Lance got most of the tastes). When Jan’s mother was taking her turn she put some on her finger and let Vivian lick it off. Her first taste of the “good stuff.” So special and funny for all of us to watch her puckered expression as she got her first experience with solid foods.
4) Our trip to Germany started with a sunrise, and ended with a sunset, the only photo included in today’s post…
We were about three hours from home after an almost 24-hour trip door-to-door. Exhausted, yet full with contentment from our trip, we traveled in a calm silence down I-81. The kids were asleep in the back seat in their jammies we put on them at the last rest stop. Lance’s face, stained with the Cheetos, told part of the story of a long, long trip. So long that I let him get a king-sized bag at a gas station because he had been so freaking good the whole long, long, (and one more long) trip, that when he snatched them at the check-out line and asked me for them I couldn’t say no to that sweet, tired face. He needed sustenance. He needed fuel. He needed a freaking bag of Cheetos.
Our trip started with a sunrise and ended with a sunset. I just love a symbolic ending. This one captured through a camera lens.
By definition a lens is rather complex. A dictionary (2013) definition defines a lens as: a piece of transparent substance, usually glass, having two opposite surfaces either both curved or one curved and one plane, used in an optical device in changing the convergence of light rays, as for magnification, or in correcting defects of vision
But sometimes it’s ok to see the world through different and less complex lenses. As a person who loves to take pictures, I know I am also a story-teller. I hope you enjoyed a few of my stories from Germany in this post. As an analogy, my father-in-law plays in an oompah band as a hobby. That’s right, an oompah band that plays must hear music if ever in Germany. Anyway, oompah talk aside, he is very musically inclined and truly loves to sing and play instruments for an audience. As he was practicing a piece to play at Bea and Felix’s wedding I asked him what was his favorite part about performing? He said if he can move someone with his music through a smile or tears he gets so much joy, which fuels him to play more. I can only hope I hit a similar mark with my words from time to time.
What are some of your recent photo-less moments? What lens do these “pictures” come to life for you?
The Banter Lady