“We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere – anywhere – where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.”
Ducklings in the calm. They don’t make a sound, they just run their little caucus race while momma looks on from the mossy shore. It’s still early fall and the first frosts haven’t yet disturbed the gently sloping bank and it’s early enough that the bicyclists and campers haven’t made a travesty of the footbridge nearby. A smooth, dense fog is just beginning to lift from this German Wunderland. The bank is made of clover and grass so soft it feels like cashmere, and as the veil of mist parts, I salute it’s departure with a few puffs from my dark black wood pipe.
That’s how I remember the start of each day I spent in Bad Neuenahr in the fall of 2006. My deepest, most persistent regret in my entire life, is that I didn’t have a better camera, or the wherewithal to use the rinky-dink disposable one more often during that trip.
The city itself is a spa-town, akin to Estes Park here in Colorado. except where we have majestic mountains, they have an almost zen in their moors. It was the first place I ever wrote for the sake of writing Something. It was the first time I ever had a Cuban cigar. It was the first place I ever bought alcohol. It is the place I still remember being most at peace, sitting on my little bench, on the banks of the Ahr river.
One morning during my week long holiday to see the Pope, I recall seeing a elderly local going for stroll along the cobblestone path which cut along the bank, through our hotel’s garden and onto the main footpath. Wearing a felt hat and carrying an umbrella, he sauntered more than strolled. The fog that accompanied every morning there seemed to rush away from him as he gently swashed it with his closed umbrella. I didn’t see his face, just the back of an aging man fighting his way merrily through the imagined dragons and demons that had held court the night before.
My ducks didn’t love me as much as their momma, and while it may have been sacrilege to demean the breakfast croissant by feeding to my little ducklings, I can still remember their excited peeps from their shallows every time I sat down on my little bench, to pray, eat, and write.
I think I miss my ducks the most.