The kilometers rolled on by. I was headed toward Germany, just over the border from Denmark. The Grenz/Grænse loomed ahead. There wasn’t any passport control. Just a blue sign with yellow stars. Wilkommen in Deutschland.
My job was to understand German. Where were there Stau – traffic congestion. The highway numbers were in German. The radio stations were in German. We continued all the way to France. Another non-border crossing.
France looks like Germany, just not with German. I was in Alsace. In Alsace there is French spoken. There is also German spoken. No one knows of English. I buy some 35mm film in France, speaking German.
We drove to the Rhine Falls in Switzerland. The largest waterfall in Europe. The road signs pointed to Zurich. All signs point to Zurich. I think I have seen signs once before. I am on the Interstate in the Mid-West. All roads lead to Chicago. I closed my eyes, thinking I was home again in the States. Danish was spoken around me. I opened my eyes again. I was still in Switzerland.
We drove in and around Alsace. Colmar, Ribeauville. There were Storks, and Tour de France. Everything was in French.
I walked up Le Grand Ballon. I could see the Alps. They were not the Sierra Nevada in California. I stood on a Mountain Top in France. A boy from California. I could look out and see France, Germany, Switzerland.
I found a Giant Redwood from California in a parc in France. A French parc. It was planted in the late 1800s. It was a young tree. It could live to 500+ years old. I found it growing in France. I recognized it. It reminded me of home, where ever that was.
We drove back again. More Stau on the radio. No border crossings. No passports. No language. I closed my eyes, thinking of another place, another time, another language.
I opened my eyes, and was in Denmark again.
- to be continued.