Greetings from the wilds of Bremen!
Between the time Professor Gohr saw me at the campus gate with two large sleeping pads last night and today's 2:00 "end of traveling" deadline she gave me (the beginning of her class), I've traveled far and wide. I've moved miles across land so flat one can simply look left or right to see great distances. I've gotten right up close to giant windmills powering a countryside not that much different than Don Quixote's. I've walked in the Raining Forest, with drip-drops coming off trees all around despite the absence of even a cloud in the sky for the last several days. I've explored a church that died with its village years ago and is buried in the same cemetary. I've walked along a rocky riverbank, visited a small shipyard at golden hour, and seen a field full of newly born lambs, black and white, grazing with their parents. I've crossed a wooden bridge over a stream in the woods as a swan ducked down to swim underneath. I've cycled down beautiful winding paths in the woods under trees that arch low overhead to form a passage through the dark green leaves and bright multicolored flowers. I've passed through a park which plays summertime host to a complete orchestra and many citizens enjoying its classical music. I've dined with citizens of another country under the light of a 9:30 sunset and spoken almost exclusively in a language I don't really know. I've passed hillsides with mansion terraces jutting out to overlook the land below. All this, and I haven't left Bremen.
This evening bike ride with my host family was a great experience and certainly raised my awareness and appreciation of the beauty all around me. Without their invitation, I probably never would have known there was an area that beautiful such a small distance from the Jacobs University campus.
Earlier this week, I also got to see Burgerpark in Bremen for the first time. This is another area of exceptional beauty. Photos of it around the city made it seem like some far-off foreign travel destination, but it's actually right here in the heart of the city! Burgerpark is probably about as big as Camp Carpenter (NH scouts know where that is), with an entrance only 10 minutes' walk from the main train station. A river flows through the park, with old bridges and family boats for rent. We (Allysa B. of Lafayette-Jacobs and I) saw a mother duck and all her little ducklings on the side of the water just a few feet from where we stood. Quaint little German houses and traditional architecture comprise the few buildings scattered throughout the park. One of them seemed to be a small farm, with ponies lying out in front and a rooster crowing out the way as it crossed the path in front of us. Fields of dandelions there are crossed by well-maintained paths, with plenty of green in between. One or two medieval-looking flags rise up in populated areas, showing the word "Eis" [Ice cream] instead of a knight's coat of arms.
Small trips like these and weather like we've had lately are, to me, among the most valuable excursions of this trip (all 5 phases). They bring out the most beauty in the some of the most unexpected places, and require an expansion of mind in order to accomodate their existence.
I'm also learning that these places are a lot more common than typically thought. Try to find something like this near where you are - I'll bet you can find it, if you look in the right place!
Grace and peace,
Postcard photo, text, & software ©2007 W. Ben Towne / WBT Productions.