My mom used to tell people that I learned to read at the age of four. I don’t know if that is true – I know that she liked to brag with my abilities, maybe that is a natural thing for mothers. Anyway one of the first things that I discovered after I could read was my parent’s bookshelf, and one book was especially fascinating – a lexicon. My mother said that I was excited because I thought that this was a book that seemed to know everything about everything in the world.
I read a lot in it, probably without understanding much, but I felt that it opened a world to me. One thing that I found particularly fascinating about it was the beautiful color plate section. It inspired me so much that I started my own lexicon, scribbling down and drawing endless lists of things – birds, gemstones, flags, fruits, traffic signs, just like I found it in the book, but extending it to cars, radio songs, cigarette brands, chemical elements, capital cities, volcanoes, dinosaurs … just anything I could find as long as I could put it into lists, page after page. Apparently lists of things were endlessly fascinating to me. Why doesn’t it surprise me that I work with databases today?
The original lexicon has disappeared in the meantime. A couple of days ago I found myself ordering another one from eBay for a few Euros – a worn out copy from 1956, as old as the book that I loved so much when I was very small. Now when I look at the images again, after almost half a century, there is a very distinct sense of remembering and nostalgia. Am I the same person as I was back then, or am I someone different?
On this quiet sunny 1st of May morning, before breakfast, I took a long walk alone (Sabine is away in Brussels, seeing an old girlfriend). It is a holiday and people are still asleep – many have spent an extended evening partying, drinking lots of beer, and stealing birches. They have a
strange custom here in Germany, and I think especially here in the Rhine area – young men gather to cut birch trees, decorate them with colorful ribbons, and set them up in front of the houses of young women; part of the fun is that other young men try to steal these birch trees in the night.
The meadows were colored bright yellow with millions of dandelions (called “Lion’s Teeth” here for some reason), interspersed with the subtle pink of cuckoo flowers … and all the birds were singing.
At one point, a song thrush sang its loud and exquisite song very near to me for a minute or two. I love those thrush songs a lot (as readers of this blog might remember) – they are somewhat similar to nightingale songs but they use more repetitions, so for most of the complex fast short patterns they sing, there is a good chance to hear them several times.
Listening to a song thrush from so near was quite an experience. The beauty was a bit overwhelming – it seemed to blast through my heart like a very loud and uplifting rock concert.
How wonderful to be able to walk through this beauty, to feel the touch of the sacred … then my path led me into the village again and there was something even more overwhelming: the smell of fresh coffee coming from the houses where people were getting up … oh yes: breakfast!!!