What really did it, was that

My feet squelched the entire way back up the mountain.

It was almost amusing, the steady squish, squish, squish, squish against the rain sodden surface. The steep path uphill (or downhill, depending on whichever way you’re facing, I suppose) is painted in tyre stripes of mud tracked up by the owners of the little houses lining the paths. Roads, they’re to be called formally, because they have graduated being traversed by feet to being coursed by cars. A field could arguably lay claim to that by the same qualification, but well, roads they are. I’ll admit to having more than a little animosity towards them. At an incline of about 45°, they’re not the stuff of a casual stroll, regardless of where you’re headed. But the inevitable aches of separate groups of muscles in your legs is still the more pleasant alternative to taking the slower, winding path down the mountain, lined by houses that have homed generations, with their gardens littered with gnomes, and faces pointed with equal parts of inquisitiveness and guardedness, even some scattered hostility, towards obvious strangers passing through. Come to think of it, it’s an easy choice to make.

I dwell upon these minutiae. I could even say, I think it’s impossible not to. Whether it’s the odd tranquility inspired by a gargantuan golden candle hoisted up on the sides of buildings, framing in electric light the four corners of the city, or the peaceful steadiness with which the behemoths of trees drown out this human attempt of marking man-made boundaries here with the ease of their breadths, there is an unspeakable wonder in both. Depending upon which street you take, your shadow will be cast in the streetlight, or the moonlight, but never both. Depending on which way you’re looking, the mist will condense whisper soft on your face, or lose its fragile claim to existence on your shoulders, but never both. Heading into the woods, I would have still called it fog- visible, almost palpable, but not yet tangible. I moved through it like a brush through paint, like an eye through the ocean, watching swirls bloom and die under the sparse reach of streetlamps. Everywhere else, it was left to those most primitive of senses to still perceive. It feels like drowning in air with uncertain boundaries, melting unexpectedly, seamlessly, with a ground that springs into solidness out of the nothingness, with each step. And yet, the moment I left the city and ventured out to retrace my steps home, then it was rain. The only difference between mist and rain is, after all, how it falls. The deniable and the undeniable, the almost there, and there. Wetness, on my face, in my hair, under my feet. Not flowing yet, but enough to add a layer of movement imperceptibly yet definitely there. I wondered, on my way between two candles, if the frog I saw at the side of a path knew where he was going. Or, for that matter, where he’d come from at all. There were no ponds or streams here anywhere, spare the river, at least two candles away. For a fleeting moment I wondered if I should take him home, but then the impulse passed, and I let him be. You can’t save everything. Most days, you can’t even save yourself.

On the cracked glass globes that cover the streetlights, barnacles grow. Exactly like the ossifications that encrust the skeletons of ships, or the undersides of piers. I remember most clearly ones that grew on a fence half-sunk into a rock pool I used to walk past, a lifetime ago. They looked just the same. Just as sharp, just as desolate. I wondered if they sleep when the snow comes. I wonder when the last time was that the ocean had covered this mountain. I wonder, when the next time will be. I wonder if I will calcify too, before then, if it too would be tangible, and wet. If the frantic lady who discovered at the cash counter that she’d left her credit card in her car, and left a line of people tapping, shifting, and sighing in those unmistakable nonverbals of repressed exasperation behind her, will be there for it. If that man I perceived walking behind me with the slightest, most visceral and peripheral of instincts, will be there for it. If the frog will be there for it. I wonder if it’ll still feel like drowning in air, when it’s salt water instead.

18.12.2021

Bon(n) Appetit!

Well, well, well. Look who the carousel threw up. 🙂

 

Today was the Rosenmontag Karneval in Bonn. Although Karneval is celebrated madly in Germany as a whole (like any legally delineated time frame for public debauchery, drunkenness, dressing up in mad outfits, and drowning yourself in sugary treats would/should be), the North Rhine area takes a special fondness to being as certifiably loony as they can be, this time of the year. And naturally, there I was.

A friend of mine lives directly in the path of the Karneval parade. Since I’d missed it last year (and heard it being mentioned as an event of somewhat mythical proportions all year long), I put on my green sequinned hat (think a North Korean general on RuPaul’s drag race) and got myself an overpriced matching bag to boot. Then we parked ourselves on her window ledge, and spent four hours bellowing KAMELLE! at the floats going past.

And what floats there were! Admittedly, they aren’t anything to the scale of the NYC parade monstrosities, but there is a certain class and charm to things here. Marching band after marching went by in admirably matching outfits, loudly clanging brass bands and baton and flag twirlers, ever so often. Every ear-splitting scream aimed in their direction was answered by fistfuls of candy thrown in our direction. There was one extreeeemely retro moment, too, when an elderly ‘officer’ left the main stream and crossed over to where our friend, a dashing, beautiful pirate with a dashing, beautiful pirate duck strapped onto her head, was waving her plasterboard scimitar around. He dropped three bags of candy on her, and tapped his cheek for a kiss in return. She planted one on him, and dumped the booty in our pirate chest/crate (that we filled to the brim at least thrice. And also spilled stray beer over. At least thrice. Eh.)

The afternoon vanished in a rush of faces and floats. Ships went by, trucks went by. Tractors lugged massive wagons behind them, as did absolutely gorgeous Clydesdale horses, looking far more magnificent as they did, naturally. The booty consisted vastly of candy, candy, candy, but there were also gummy animals of every species, cookies, soft cakes, notepads and magnets, rubber ducks shaped with Beethoven’s head on them, stress balls, rubber balls, little pouches, a tulip float that handed out tulips (oo la laaa), and a singularly impressive procession of witches and vampires, that tossed out monster eye marshmallows from a gigantic cauldron.

During this entire time, I succumbed willingly to my Kryptonite- lollipops. The first wave had tossed a few in the window, and I decided to let myself a go a little. It led to an interesting moment later, when a man float going by yelled at me to take the lollipop out. I was completely sure I’d misheard the bizarre request, so I took it out and shouted back at him, ‘Why??’ To which I received a packet of soft cakes thrown at me, before the float went out of sight. Go figure.

Things were pretty wild west in there, though. Some people handed things to you, others slung in your direction with throws that would do Clayton Kershaw proud. Bees handed out honey-flavored chews, a field of sunflowers on legs went by and threw us sunflower seeds (little seed packets, with flowers painted on them!) and every manner of glucose fueled goodies, till my afternoon halted abruptly- I took a candy bar to the eye.

And that. shit. HURT. I was waving at someone to my right when a bar flew in from the left somewhere and caught me smack bang in my wide open left eye. I had a few moments of blinding pain and my eye felt like it was going to explode out of my head. I spent a  good 2-3 minutes doubled over completely shell-shocked and clutching my eye, going ‘my eye, my eye’ repeatedly. Then I hurried to the kitchen and my friend handed me a cold beer to hold against it. And let me tell you, alcohol *does* numb the pain.

A little while later, we headed out through the body of the parade. The only clear way out was to walk between the successive floats, and it was glorious. People were dancing on the sidewalks and occasionally spilling out onto the street. I saw a group of ballerinas hanging out a second-storey window, with MacGyvered upside down Umbrella candy catchers. 4-5 girls dancing in a circle dressed up as milk cartons, which I could not stop laughing about, and a severely impressive Renley Baratheon and company, who I deeply regret not taking pictures with.

Anyhoo, two days of sleeping off the alcohol poisoning from later that night and a bruised eye later, the Karneval has come to a close. I finally had the chance to witness a nationwide descent into madness, and added my own humble, licorice-flavored vodka insult to the liver contribution at the end. And although the binge cost me a day spent recovering in bed, I would not have missed it for the world. Dressed as a black cat and elbow deep in gummy bear treats (with a kick) is the only socially acceptable way to say goodbye and good riddance to the Karneval. So naturally, that’s what I did. When in Germany, do as the Germans do. 😉

 

https://giphy.com/embed/jTnGaiuxvvDNK<p><a href=”https://giphy.com/gifs/funny-cat-jTnGaiuxvvDNK”>via GIPHY</a></p>

Day 3: Leviathans dans le ciel

Monsters, even in the skies. That white whale defeats me yet. .

.

.

.

.

Day 3 of NaPoWriMo. Oh, we’re doing this! ☀️

.

.

.

Your Cookie has been traveling. Spring greetings from Bonn, Germany. Who’s in the neighborhood? 🙃