This is the first time I’ve experienced reverse jet lag – I am not sleepy. I sleep for a couple of hours, then my eyes pop open and I’m awake. We were up until 1:30 a.m. after a late supper of coldcuts and salad, catching up with each others lives, laughing, and “carrying on” as they say in the South. This morning I came upstairs before dawn, tidied up the dishes from the night before, then made up a still life composition centered around the empty wine bottle, and painted until everyone else woke up. I was even awake before 4-month-old Simon! An oval flat bottle, a ripe pear, a bit of Brie cheese, and the quiet time for focus with no other agenda. Just what I have hungered for.
It was cool and overcast today, and Simon became fussy, so Ursula and I stayed home and I sketched the “New Castle” using several photographs from the local tourist brochure. When we crossed the bridge over the Danube this evening on our after dinner walk, I found myself thinking, “Oh, look, there’s my castle!” It’s amusing how sketching something seems to make it yours!
I had fun adding the “fire-breathing panther” mascot that appears around town here about as often as the OSU Beaver does back home in Corvallis. (Just between you and me and the fencepost, that panther’s mama was messing around with a dragon…) I noticed yesterday as we wandered through the narrow back streets that graffiti is creeping in amongst the cobblestones and ancient tiles. It’s new, you can tell, and there’s not a lot. It’s very amateurish as graffiti goes. My son is a ‘graffiti writer’ of some renown in L.A., so I know a little bit about the art – and it can be art. I suspect he would agree with me that while painting a concrete wall or a rusty old rail car is almost always an improvement, scrawling middle-school curse words on 700-year-old intricately-patterned and inlaid brick, borders on sacrilege. I am sure the ghost of Duke Ludwig the Rich is rolling in his several graves (evidently, bits and pieces were buried here and there to make sure that not just one but several cathedrals were blessed with his spirit. Or maybe it had more to do with the Frankenstein tradition…). At any rate, to be honest, I wouldn’t want to offend Ludwig, in whole or in part! Those graffiti writers better watch their steps.
The evening walk was delightful as the sun set behind the dam on the Danube. We crossed at the dam, listening to the drumbeat of a “dragon boat”, a sort of a rowing crew team that jousts with other boats during festivals. Markus said he wanted to show us something a bit out of the way. We pushed the stroller into a shady park-like setting, where blue metal shafts stuck up out of the overgrown grass here and there. “It’s a memorial to those locals who died as a result of persecution by the National Socialists.” I sifted back through my memory, trying to figure out who the National Socialists were, wondering if it was a recent political happening that I had not taken any notice of, being so very American and clueless about European politics. And then I read the simple words beneath the photographs that were mounted inside the shafts. My German is rudimentary, but the words jumped out – executed, sterilized, commited suicide, died in prison. There were no names, just photos of young people circa 1938 or 1942. Oh. That’s what Nazi stands for. How quickly we forget. A few footsteps away, there were concrete lion memorials for platoons of local soldiers and airmen. Again, no individual names, just platoon ID’s.
So sad. So unnecessary. So easy to push out of our minds, thereby risking the “history repeats itself” consequences; not here surely, but where else do we refuse to take any notice? How many similar movements are under way in countries whose names we don’t even know how to pronounce… My thanks and admiration go to the citizens of Ingoldstadt who had the vision and courage to erect these memorials.