I lie flat upon my back, having just flung myself to the ground following the full effort of a bicycle ride up a long hill, breathing deep and hard, swallowing gulps of restoring air.
I feel my rib-cage lift against the fabric of my shirt as each breath enters my lungs, my muscles and cartilage stretch to accommodate the air, then rapidly compress, expelling a rush of sound.
I attend to the bed of grass in which I lie, its earthy smell of hay, its tiny fruiting heads gently scraping against the skin of my forearms, its stalks waving in the wind and against one another in soft whispers.
I feel the simple pleasure of being alive, as a gentle breeze flows across my chest, and the spring Sun shines down and warms my skin.
Around me all elseÂ in this glorious moment unnoticed, ignored.
From memories of a bike ride from Rodalben up Pirmasenser Strasse to the HusterhÃ¶h Kaserne, Pirmasens, Germany, 1975.
Herein lies a tale of history misunderstood, and then of history revived. It begins in Heidelberg, Germany in 1975. I was then a young soldier in the US Army, and with a fellow soldier, had taken a day trip to visit the storied university town of Heidelberg. While strolling along the Philosopher's Way, where students and professors had trod for hundreds of years (the walk afforded a great view of the Heidelberg castle on the opposite bank of the Neckar river), we chanced upon an unmanaged but well-trodden path that went up the hill towards the Heiligenberg (holy mountain), which other people were clambering up. There was no sign that described that path, nor could it be found on our map.
Few who came of age in the 1970's are unfamiliar with the singer Carole King, and more specifically, her album Tapestry. It struck an immediate and widespread chord, so to speak, for many including myself; over the years, I have listened to it often, and it has never lost its appeal for me.
Thomas Wolfe's famous suggestion, "You can't go home again" covers a large amount of territory; your home is not the only thing to which you cannot return to with any but perfect verisimilitude. Recently I became curious about my old neighborhood in Pirmasens, Germany, where I was stationed as a soldier in the U.S. Army during the mid-70's. Through the magic of Google Earth and the Internet, I explored the place I once lived, now thirty five years hence.