Sabine and Julia lived in the Freiburg suburb of Haslach ( tr. "Rabbit's Laugh". Note to Germany: never name a town during
mushroom-picking season.) I was pleased to have a couple of days in Southern Germany to practise my German, and pick up a few words of Badisch dialect
to impress my language class comrades in England (try Kansch dem Hase gebbe! - 'You can give that to the rabbits!', a
sure argument winner, rabbits being everything around here.) I wanted to wander from the known paths of everyday English to the wilds of another language a little.
Unfortunately for me, the entire young population of Germany seemed to be stampeding the other way. It is not considered
cool ('kuhl') or sexy ('erotische') to use ordinary German words for everyday items any more. Instead, you are supposed to figure
out the approximate English equivalent and use that instead. So don't say Fahrkarte, say Tikkit. As you might expect, this
bastard jobbing of English words out of context sounds ridiculous. The town was playing host to a roving
music festival that month. It was called, to be cool, "The Monkey Jump". What had monkeys got to do with it, or anything? I mean
monkeys, do they jump at all, don't they just swing?
What, I mean, what the.... why...
Words failed me.
inadequacy aside, Germany is a very liberal country. The towns are spacious and airy, and not
too large, home to a friendly, eco-concious people who like nothing better than to be active and outdoors.
The Black Forest, with or without a plan, is a good place to be.
A crisp autumn breeze whispering of pine needles and forest-coloured memory, gathered to play hide-and-seek between sunlight
and shade. We could look down from Shauinsland to Freiburg and
across the Rhine to the Vosges. The air was soft and the trees glowed. I was walking with a pretty girl who
knew how to laugh, and everything was well. When, all sudden, something happened. Sabine and I drew close, looking back up the
track, unable to comprehend. A shadow drew over the sun.
"Did you hear that?" An shiver ran up my spine.
"Yes...but how..I don't understand..."
"They must be crazy," I said with more firmness than I felt, and we hurried away.
Strangers, cheery faced and beaming on that perfect autumn day, had said Guten Tag to us.