Sunday, September 23, 2007

Off to Champagne

One of the best things about being in Germany is that you are 4 to 5 hours away from EVERYWHERE. On Wednesday morning Mike and I went into the University to plan a weekend trip to Zurich to visit his sisters Kellie, who lives in Zurich, and Anne who had flown in as a surprise for Kellie’s birthday.

The clouds then parted; a single beam of sunlight shown down upon me and the angles sang as Mike discovered that Koblenz is only 4 hours from the Champagne region of France. We made plans to leave that evening, spend 2 nights in Reims, France, and then to Zurich for the weekend.

Off to our German language lesson at Boas Vindas Language School, we spent two hours learning to count and the pronunciation of German abc’s. The kids picked it up naturally, pretty quickly. Mike and I had more trouble. Mike was trying to learn the difference between pronunciations of the letter i and the letter e, (sort of the difference in sound between “ee” and “eee”). “No” Kirsten, our instructor said “it’s eeee”

“eeee” said Mike.

“No eeee” said Kirsten.

“EEEE” said Mike.

“No eeee” said Kirsten.

“Kerpow, splat” went Mike’s head as it exploded all over the table.

We had big fun in that classroom, laughing and learning together. Everyone felt safe enough to practice aloud (you can’t embarrass yourself in front of your family) and the kids were particularly pleased that they “got it” faster than the adults. It is one of the best memories I will take from this trip.

Around 4 o’clock we piled into the car and headed to Reims, France, the center of the Champagne region. The drive was beautiful, as the trees and fields are changing into their fall clothes. Bright green fields of grass lay next to luminous golden fields of wheat and newly harvested fields the colors of caramel, almond and coffee. And there were cows, lots of cows.

The color of the sky as the sun set behind the mountains was unreal. Lemon and orange sherbet streaks gave way to the cornflower blue bits of sky. I got chills watching it and had that “tugging on my heartstrings” feeling for most of the drive. Maybe it was the anticipation of seeing the region that gave birth to that “sparkling nectar of the gods”, or maybe it was my chromosomes recognizing their French ancestry, but I had one of those “peak moments” where my chest filled up with gratitude and awe, practically moving me to tears. My kids think I’m a nut and Mike won’t let me drive.n

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