Autobiography Dieter Rolf Fischer Book 11
(Pictures by author, unless indicated) Book 11 / Ch. 23 Written / Published 28.4 - 3.5.2013
Cross words seem to be the flavour of the month. According to scripture, the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are lost, but to us who believe it is a power..." (1. Cor. 1,18).
Another cross-word crosses our path in this chapter, as if planned by an unseen scriptwriter. Message: OK. See it.
Likewise, numbers will shine. First up - 23: Five days before this writing, on the 23rd (April 2013) Australia's population reached 23 000 000.
In the latter part of this chapter we shall leave Berlin and travel by train back to southern Germany, before commencing a long, long trek west across two oceans. We shall meet with interesting people en route.
23. Ol' PL Can C
Before we board a train in Berlin I must write about two incidences, which took place after I had written the above introduction. As if I had carefully planned it all, one incident links directly to the above mentioned message See it. The other was a further timely appearance of the number 23:
The day a commencing this chapter, Sunday 28th April 13, was a pleasant, warm Sunday afternoon. Our little Fox Terrier needed a walk. Becky and I had walked along Nelson Road, and crossed busy McIntyre Road many times. Stepping over the nine sections of concrete footpath, which had been left during repaving works some years ago, reminded me how long my journey of numbers had been.
Becky was getting older, our walks fewer and longer gaps in between. It had been a long time since I had seen debris on the footpath, which my creative brain immediately linked to my writing; years since I actually took some home to add to the collection of memorabilia.
Where normally I would turn left, after passing Erin Ct. to return via Bridge Road, I decided to take a little longer walk via Christine* Ave, which I had not done for many months. As soon as I had turned right on the path my eyes spotted this:
The second surprise, after having drawn attention to the number 23 in above intro, came as I read my daily Our Daily Bread (ODB) Bible reading. When I wrote the into I had no idea that on the very same day (28.4) the scripture in ODB was undoubtedly the best know Psalm in the Bible - 23. The key text is verse 4:
Psalm 23 has brought comfort to billions. What a beautiful way for God to remind us: "I am with you, in the dark valley or on the mountain top. I love you." Can you see, it's not about numbers? It's about God's love.
- - - - - - -
A number he gave. (Please note - No. gave).
May I briefly return to Chapter 21, the story of the plane crash in our neighbourhood. There was a photo I had taken, but not published in that chapter, thinking readers must be tired of car registration plates. At the time I had strange sensation that the vehicle somehow was connected. That's why I had taken the photo.
During a brief evening bike ride recently, I passed the same spot, near where that vehicle had parked, fifty meters or so from the place of the plane crash. The car had gone. However, out of the corner of my eye I spotted something on the footpath - a wine bottle. At first I cycled on. Then I recalled other wine bottles in my writing - there had been at least 4 or even 5. Curiosity made me turn back to take a look:
- - - - - - -
In the previous chapter, twice, I had come across the word KOCH, German for cook. The day after publishing, relaxing with another crossword puzzle on my lap, the same word popped up to complete the Koch hat trick.
What crossed my TV screen next? A link to Koch! A famous singer, Michael Buble (not to be pronounced like trouble) was bursting into song in a New York subway station.
According to the LA Times (Nadine Saad - 26.4.13) he sang the Jackson 5's - Who's loving you? But, excuse me Nadine, how could you write this headline - "Michael Buble expecting a baby boy won't name him after pope?"
(Back to Berlin / Germany)
Sunday, September 23rd, 2013 was one of those, where I had a good excuse to not attend church. I spent most of the day on two intercity trains between Berlin and the Black Forest. In Hanover I had exactly 8 minutes to transfer from platform 11 to platform 4. It worked out OK, even having to wheel my Giant (bike) down the stairs. (I did not use the lift available).
During the 800 km long trip there was plenty of time for reading, doing cross words and thinking. After I had read Psalm 119 I thought: The writer of this psalm and I have a lot in common. His text and mine seem seem to go on and on. He also repeats a lot of what he writes.
There was lots to see as I crossed Germany from the far north to the deep south. The VW factory in Wolfsburg stands out in my mind, as do the skyscrapers of Frankfurt / Main, the financial hub of Germany.
The most picturesque section came after leaving the Rhein valley, near Offenburg. My train veered left to wind its way through the narrow, wooded valleys, through numerous tunnels, deep into the Black Forest to St. Georgen, where my friend Juergen, who I had visited numerous times since migrating, was waiting.
- - - - - - -
One place I wanted to visit in Southern Germany, actually Switzerland, was Basel. To be precise, I wanted to say hello to a half- brother, who I knew lived in an age-care facility in Rheinfelden, on the German side of the Rhein River. Across the big river in Basel, I had a contact, a friend of a friend, who I wanted to meet up with also. My friend Juergen very kindly chauffeured me.
- - - - - - -
(Fast forward 7 months)
Writing on April 30th 2013 I was watching the News on TV during the dinner break. When yet another commercial came up, I felt like screaming to the screen: "I don't want funeral insurance - not now or ever!" Instead I switched the channel to News 24 on ABC TV. The finance report (Finance Quarter) was not exactly my forte either. (Those who don't have money, don't have money worries; just like those who don't have a motorbike don't have motorbike worries!).
My worries started a few seconds into the Finance Quarter report. I just saw the final few moments. The subject was the price of gold. In large letters I read: The price of gold hit a record high on September 6, 2013. That's when my worries started. This was April 2013. Either the program producers were prophesying or speculating on the world gold price, or I had read the screen incorrectly.
If indeed I was reading the screen incorrectly - gold reached a record high in 2012 - the following is leading us up the garden path. If there was a mistake made or, God forbid, there was a kind of testing in progress, something which had occurred in many chapter during my ten-years of writing, something supernatural was taking place. Judge for yourself:
If you feel God has led you up a garden path, start digging. There may be buried, hidden treasure.
- - - - - - -
Allow me one more observation from the TV screen. Also on ABC News 24, it was rather wacky, but, as always, true. The timing could not have been better.
On Friday 19.4.13 one of the presenters, Michael, was wearing a blue and white striped shirt. His co-host, Beverley, was also wearing blue - a blue top and a yellow blouse underneath. Had I known what came next, I would have photographed them on the screen:
Toothbrush - blue/white stripes - yellow in between.
(I warned you, it's wacky, but true and well timed)
- - - - - - -
(Back on the bike)
My friend Juergen and his wife Gertrud were exceptional hosts. I really enjoyed their company and hospitality. I seriously considered staying an extra day. Had I done so, however, I would have missed meeting up with two very interesting cyclists. (Read on).
The weather was almost perfect on Friday 28th September 2012, cool to mild, fine and little wind. I could easily have taken the train back to Goeppingen, which was about one day's cycling away. But not far from St.Georgen, en route, I paused the village, where I had spent much time during my teenage years. My then best friend, Wolfgang, came from there.
Some of my fondest memories of my youth take me back to the weekends, when I escaped the city, away from family troubles, and visited Wolfgang in the Black Forest. We enjoyed hiking, riding our mopeds (small 50 cc motorbikes) or made music together. He played the piano accordion and I the trumpet.
From the archives:
- - - - - - -
German traffic flowed fast and was often heavy. Riding on one of the numerous cycle paths made me feel safer, but it also slowed progress. In places cycle routes lead away from main roads, through farm land or forests. Surfaces changed suddenly from smooth to rough. Potholes filled with water became a trap. The occasional wrong turn, where a sign had gone missing, add much time and mileage to my ride along the Neckar River.
That Friday September 28th I decided to ride on the road, the Bundesstrasse (Federal Road) 14, since traffic was light and not many hills. Approaching Horb, from a the distance, I noticed two cyclists ahead. I was slowly catching up to them. Soon it was obvious they were also long distance cyclists, carrying camping gear etc.
As I was overtaking, riding alongside for a moment, I called out something in German. I can't recall what, but I needed not have asked, where they came from. The lady wore an Australia-flag hat. Neither would I have to ask, if they go to church. The gentleman was wearing a hat, which showed the red shield badge of the Salvation Army.
The middle-aged (L-age?) pair was on a 9-week cycling holiday in Germany. During the hour we had in Horb, eating lunch together, we had much to talk about. They were from Canberra. Kelvin's business card revealed, he was a rather high-ranking officer in the Salvation Army. His title and first three letters of his name also made me think - DR ALL.... Little did I know, after we parted, we would meet again by chance two days later.
Fast forward two days. I had spent one final day in Goeppingen and prepared for my departure from Germany. The next day was Sunday, September 30th, 13. As I sat in the train to Esslingen, watching the fog outside, I felt some what sad to be leaving. At the same time I looked forward to being reunited with my family and the warm summer days ahead. But there were many, many miles still to travel.
My plane was leaving mid-afternoon. There was time to visit a church service at the Friedens Kirche, the church I was confirmed at in 1964. I had not attended a service there since migrating. Thinking the service starts at 9.30 am I was half hour too early. What can I do with this spare 1/2 hour?
Somebody had informed me that a bus to Stuttgart airport was leaving from Esslingen railway station. Why not cycle there to find out exactly, which bus stop it was leaving from? So I did. As I was checking the time table at the bus stop, a voice called out my name. I turned and there was Kelvin and Julie, walking their bikes along. They wanted to catch a train.
Train station, Esslingen/Neckar - September 30th 2013
I was only 5 minutes late for the church service back in Frieden Strasse, the street of peace. One of the features of the service was communion. All in the congregation moved forward and stood in a circle, while all took part in the sacraments. After the service I briefly spoke to a young man, also a cyclist. I told him that my brother and I were among the first ever group of Konfirmanten in the newly built church in 1964.
In the church notices I recognized a name: Mr. and Mrs. Kobus, who were celebrating their diamond wedding. I remembered the name from fifty years ago, when I was a child, attending Sunday School there. The Kobus' certainly were faithful people. I liked their name too, especially after last chapter's bus story. (No kidding - that afternoon at Zurich Airport the bus, which took air travellers between terminals was a Cobus.)
In Oberesslingen, at the Volkmission, another church service had just ended. There was sufficient time to ride there from the Friedenskirche to say good-bye to those few, who knew me still. One was another good friend, also called Juergen. On departing I gave an invitation to visit us in Australia. My friends think it's merely a courtesy. But nothing would give me more pleasure than welcoming friends and showing them around our beautiful state.
Because my friend Willy and his wife were on holiday, I had arranged to leave Willy's bicycle, the borrowed Giant, with my brother Gerhard for a later pick up. I was quite specific that I'd call around 1 PM and would appreciate a ride back into town to catch my airport bus.
Unfortunately, Gerhard did not quite get the message. Still wearing his pyjamas, when I called on him at around 1.15 PM, he advised me to be better organised. Luckily, I was organised and was travelling lightly - and there was a bus to the airport. But there was little time now, so I had no choice but to say good-bye at the door; no time even for a drink. I walked down town at my usual fast pace.
As I had at the beginning, my journey took me back the same route, from Stuttgart via Zurich to Madrid. Reading the Swiss Magazine I found my surname in an article about a photographer. Annette Fischer's style was unique. It was described like this:
Swiss*air Magazine: (*I feel safer adding the word air):
- - - - - - -
The hostel in Madrid I had stayed two months earlier was in a great location. So, why not stay again in the same place in Jesus and Maria-Lane? There was time for an evening stroll, exploring the lanes and plaza's in the neighbourhood. Men, women, children were still out, enjoying each other and the warm evening air. What a contrast to suburban Adelaide. Deep inside I feel a city dweller, having grown up right in the centre of a busy town, right beside the central railway station.
The next morning I made my way to Atocha Railway Station in Madrid. The plan was to catch the train to Toledo around 11 am, spend the day there and return in the early evening. However, I did not know that you needed a booking for the short 3/4-hour fast train ride. Luckily there were still seats on the 12.20 pm! This gave me extra time to take a walk and snap a few pictures.
Totally unplanned, on May 1st, (5.1) seven months later to the day, while scanning the two photos (below), I discovered some detail within the pictures - codes! Take a look:
Exciting Madrid, Spain, Oct. 1st 2012
Interesting! Peru - Pe.ace and Ru.h (the German word for rest, peace.)
Outside Atocha Railway Station
Immediately, on arriving at the historic railway station in Toledo, you sense that you arrived somewhere special. The ornate interior of the entrance hall looked more like that of a cathedral.
Little wonder, the ancient town, 70 kilometers south of Madrid, has been on the World Heritage list since 1987. It was a glorious, sunny day as I explored the streets, plazas, churches and anything else where my eyes and feet took me. A bicycle would not have been a good idea. Cobble-stones and hard bike tyres don't mix.
That day I even found time to relax in an exotic market square, enjoy a coffee and write some postcards. My Olympus camera worked at full speed until the battery went flat. (It was a blessing, really. At a place like Toledo you are so exited, you want to just photograph everything - hard work. Who wants hard work on their holiday? Here are some pre-flat battery photos:
Toledo, Spain (World Heritage Site)
My reserved seat Number on the Toledo tourist train was 19D. During the whole 3/4 hour trip a lady sat beside me in 19C. She had a piece of paper on her lap. It was all filled with numbers. Her numbers were none of my business. I had enough of my own (not on my lap, but in my head.)
Next, on exiting the train, she dropped her numbers onto the platform right beside me. Before I could pick them up for her, she had done so. Had she contemplated donating them ...?
The weight of my small, red suitcase came to exactly 10.0 kilogram at the airline counter.
How interesting, I thought, as I do now, aiming to conclude this chapter, and the Europe excursion!
On the day of writing I provided transport for a friend. It was her first time driving in the vehicle with me. She is 100 years old.
See the point?