Kites are standing above the Rhine meadows, sometimes swishing around with buzzing sounds. Spring had come early this year, now it looks like autumn is arriving early as well. We are in Mid-August, but the weather is cool and windy, with occasional showers. I am wearing a hooded sweatshirt and an outdoor jacket on top of it. The trees are still pretending it is summer, their leaves are lush green and firmly attached to the twigs, but the winds are swaying their branches and chasing grey clouds across the sky.
The wind, however, is not yet too strong for bike riding. I am on the way to Wahner Heide, a natural reserve near the airport. Its heather blooming season and there are some patches of it in that area.
I am following the tarmacked hiking trail along the river. There is a row of caravans with awnings. Obviously, they are standing here permanently; people have built fences and hedges around them and a man is mowing the lawn around his motor caravan with an electric lawn mower. Very typically German!
People are dressed very diversely. You can see here the difference between pragmatic and dogmatic people. The pragmatic people are wearing sweaters and jackets. The dogmatic people are wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts or tee-shirts. It is supposed to be summer, isn’t it? The pragmatic people are having a great time, the weather is wonderful! The dogmatic people are freezing, goose pimples on their naked arms.
For me, the weather is wonderful. After passing the Rodenkirchen Bridge, I am unexpectedly meeting a colleague who is just jogging along the river. I am riding besides him for some time and we are having a chat. I have known this guy for nearly 14 years know, since my time in Hamburg. We were transferred to Cologne together and now we will be transferred to Hannover. This is our last year in Cologne. How free are we? We could have stayed in Hamburg and we could stay in Cologne now, but that would also have consequences. It is like we are moving along a corridor. The left and right walls are far apart and as long as you are moving more or less straight, you can pretend you are free to go wherever you like. The left and right walls are some distance away and you can pretend they are not there. Until suddenly, the corridor bends around a corner and you see it is constraining you. Most of the time, you don’t feel those walls, but they are there all the time. You can go through a door, but there is just another corridor behind it, another set of constraints. However, I found there is some inner freedom. It does not really matter where you are staying. The problems are created by attaching your feelings to things and places too much. In a way, a beam of light is traveling on a straight line by definition, no matter how the gravitation of the stars around it is warping space, curving its way. But it is a difficult situation for many. When we came from Hamburg, 4 out of 5 people did not come along. Maybe it is easier for me since I am a bit of a loner. Leaving friends behind is the hardest challenge for most… Now, the river is bending one way and my way is bending another. I am leaving my colleague to go left towards my destination. “See you on Monday”.
About an hour later, I am sitting on a barkless tree trunk in the middle of Wahner Heide. The sandy way has been transformed into a sequence of round puddles looking into the clouds and I had to follow a serpent-like path around them. I am wearing my rain cape, it is like a wearable little tent. It is raining. On one side, the flowers of the heather shrubs are opening up, painting the area purple. On the other side, there is an open area with gorse bushes. Sometimes cattle and donkeys are grazing there, giving this very special little patch of landscape a certain archaic feeling, but they are not there today; I have seen them on another patch when I was coming, fighting my way along a muddy way. The mud transferred what would have been an easy ride through the forest into a serious bit of sports. I had never been here on a rainy day before. It gives a special beauty to the place, something missed by most people who only come here when the weather is sunny.
Maybe this is the last time I am here. But attaching myself to this place would make me feel sad instead of enjoying it. There is enjoyment without attachment. You enjoy moments, not things or places. The leaves of the oak tree above respond to the falling drops with a gentle whisper. There is also the occasional noise of the air planes starting on the nearby airport, but that is how this place is. Just like the weather, one has to take it as it is.
(The picture is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flying_kites.jpg)