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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday morning reflections.

Sitting outside at Liebevoll (of course!), I am drinking an excessive number of coffees and having breakfast. It is all very American of me, although I have not yet needed to resort to English! The quantity of coffee is the Americanism, more than anything else -- it is far more common here to have a single (small!) cup of very strong coffee than to have several cups of weaker coffee. I, naturally, am drinking several cups of very strong coffee, and if it weren't so expensive I would drink more! I also possess a little of the American puritanism and am a bit startled by the drinking of beer before noon. It is not uncommon, though, and, really, it does not seem to be destroying society in any way. Then again, this is also a place that legalized civil unions seven years ago (and whose population overwhelmingly supports fully legalizing gay marriage), also without destroying society, so perhaps they are on to something.

I am frequently struck by the more subtle cultural differences. The region is so much like the American midwest that it is disarming, and the language sounds very much like English to me, as do the people. But in the stores, the cultural differences become apparent. Things are grouped together using what seems to be an entirely different categorization scheme, and I find myself puzzling over it, trying to figure out the governing rule set. This is true for stores themselves, also, not just where they put things but what they have. My favorite are the stores that sell coffee and travel or cleaning supplies, and jeans (really? why?). Utterly baffling and strangely entertaining.

The morning is rather nautical, the sky made up many depths of translucent gray and intermittent sun. It is rather pretty, and sometimes very breezy. The wind has, in fact, just blown brötchen and napkins across the square, chased by yelps and laughter. I caught my screen guard only a few feet away -- I was lucky. The wind also sends organ music wafting in from the church. Very Gothic and atmospheric; religion with a dose of Hollywood horror (we just need Lon!). There is also a bird shrieking that sounds rather like a pterodactyl. The other sounds are supplied by a party upstairs at the Stadt Hotel -- lots of giggling and a recorder. Periodically gales a laughter drift down, and those of us sitting outside look up and smile at each other in response.

Church is letting out. Elderly couples slowly leaving the cathedral, and the beginnings of traffic on the square. It is still very quiet, though, sort of muted, especially now that the party upstairs seems to have dispersed. It is a morning that encourages reflection, and I am willing to sit and indulge.

And just on cue, heralded by the church bells pealing noon, the sun comes out.

Location: Currently, Berkeley, United States

I'm an academic scientist who is both abroad and a broad. I am on the road so often that I have a house solely so that my cats will have somewhere to live.

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