A bicycle tour through Germany 5

-A reportage in 5 parts about a bicycle tour through Germany – June 2007-

 – 5 –

Trains, snails, and power plants


Deutschland on my mind.


 Vineyard snail

 Lichen on a bench I once sat on a long time ago

 The railway system in Europe is fabulous!

And they take the bike, no problem, often for free. There are special cars for bicycles, it works like a dream!

 A bike trip wouldn’t be complete without a flat tire.

 Riding south past Marburg: gentle, warm rain all day long …

 … it’s actually very beautiful!

 Kernkraftwerk Gronde near Hameln

There are a number of nuclear power plants in Germany. I was young and rebellious when I was one of those who threw stones and demonstrated on the streets when this one was built in the late 60s. Today it feels quite wonderful to see these ugly machines at the end of their short episode in our history. They will not be renovated in Germany and shut down without replacement in the near future, I hear. Over all, I think it was a reasonable struggle for a feasible solution, and what “we” once said prevailed in the end.

 Looking down on the Weser from a castle near Polle

 The Rattenfängerhaus in Hameln

There is an old tale about a guy who once managed to rid the town of rats by making them follow him, playing a mesmerizing tune on his flute. The town’s people thought that was great but hesitated to pay him for the service, so he played his magical music again and this time all the children of the town followed him. I don’t quite remember how it ended.


 Many, many famous scientists have lived and studied here.

 Somewhere in Hessen


 A last beer down at the river

 And one day we’re on the plane again. Going down in Seattle, we see the traffic chaos on I-5 and feel at home.

Up in the sky in the stratosphere over the ice of Greenland we could not sit any longer and I found the pantry in the rear of the airplane empty, and I took Parvin and danced with her. (We had recently relearned from a DVD how to dance the waltz) Dancing in an airplane – also something we had never done before!

* * * *

 Coming home.

 by Klaus Kommoss

Coming home is such a funny thing:

The mysterious thrill of familiarity.

It is the dream of security and reliability,

competing with reality throughout our lives.

If we listened to our heart

we could feel at home wherever we are,

but against the faint, silken whisper of wisdom

we only trust what we already know.

Home is where Self lives

in a house with mirrors as walls.

It is a concept we never stop to make up

in our eternally yearning mind.

It is our beloved, self-made prison

we immediately begin to construct

wherever we stop and remain for more than a few breaths.

It is that wonderful luring illusion,

as fleeting and arbitrary as a wave on the ocean,

something we grasp and cling to

in a world that is ceaselessly changing.

 — == * == —

 Deutschland on my mind

Germany was always on my mind in those long years when I roamed the globe. But after 20 years I’m not the same any more. I once left for reasons apparently too complicated to fully recall, and somebody else now returned.

In a peculiar way it’s almost a relief to feel this. A mess of unfinished business may have remained for the one who once left, however, the one who returned is a new person, a free man, maybe no person at all.

I remember the intensity of my feelings when I left, but I barely remember the content of these feelings. Usually we must give up something to make room for the new, and we typically can see what we are giving up much more clearly than what we are getting. In hindsight it’s the other way round, so why bother?

Germany was always on my mind. I did not forget it, but in all those years I also learned to not really believe everything I think and rather pay attention to what is actually happening.

Did I go home or did I come from home? I really don’t know. And once again I see I don’t need to know. The wonderful relief at the end of the great search. Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. Oh, we do create stories, constructing our legacy, we write our story with heart blood every day, but it’s just a story. Paying attention is all it takes, being present while it all happens and not getting lost in that story. Knowing is always related to the past and therefore it binds us to the past. Unlike knowing, understanding is not a conclusion, not accumulation. Understanding is attention.

What is home? What is belonging, what is purpose? Gigantic ideas. Not that they don’t matter; people strap bombs around themselves and blow to pieces what they find so important. I still believe that what we call success is not measured by what we are driven to achieve but by what we can quietly understand.

Germany was always on my mind. It makes a great line for a love song, doesn’t it? It’s still on my mind, and how could it not? The thing is, I know my mind a little better now. Did I ever expect to review my past in a new language? What a joke it all is – what a miracle!

  — — —

Paying attention

by Klaus Kommoss

I know how to pay attention,

every child can do it.

It’s a lot easier once we let go of the big agendas.

I know how to stroll through this world,

always prepared,

not against but for surprise.

That’s what I’ve been doing in all those years.

What else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything come and go by itself ?

What could I have possibly added to this miracle

but wholehearted attention?

Is there really anything else we can do

with this one wild and precious life?

 *     *  *  *     *

 Der Versuch, die Eindrücke unserer Reise hier etwas distanziert zu beschreiben, mag vielleicht ein Weg sein, einen authentischen Anknüpfungspunkt zu finden.


 We left the blue upright-tandem in Europe for other future adventures, back home now we ride our recumbent-tandem again:


Klaus July 4. Independence Day in USA, our new home.

This entry was posted in 2007, Germany 2007, Other Travels, Poems, Summers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A bicycle tour through Germany 5

  1. Suresh Emre says:

    Wonderful writing! I especially enjoyed the “Coming Home” poem. I have never been in Germany but I feel like I lived there before.

  2. alexsheis says:

    I am so happy to know your blog and posts-especially your perfect photos and good writings. Thank you and bravo your couple’s vivid life!!! Your stories touched me so deeply.

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