Friday, November 09, 2012

Oceans of flowers by the Black Forest...back "home" in Lahr.

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
- Bashõ Matsuo

Downtown Lahr, Chrysanthema 2012.
Yes, I must admit that these postings are a stretch from sea kayaking and the related pics...but it’ll eventually get back on topic. :) 

The time away has provided an opportunity to return to Germany and to where we lived in the City of Lahr and think, once again about the nature of the places we call, or have called, “home”. It's a great time to be here in the foothills of the Black Forest - it's the celebration of Chrysanthema 2012. The downtown is an ocean of chrysanthemum flowers!

Away from home, the whole concept of “home” fascinates me. During my years with the Canadian Forces, we lived in the world of “postings”. “Posting season”, of course, means a move – leaving one established home for somewhere new. The timing and geographical location was always made by someone else - higher up in the chain of command. Having said that, we were always “invited” to express a personal preference for where we might like to live. If there was an opening and if military exigencies would be served, you might just get lucky!

Only in the Black Forest - a "bicycle clock"!
At one point, when our son was quite young, we determined that it might be a good time to put our name in for an “isolated” posting. It seemed like it would be a good adventure and we were game for anything. We felt confident about listing our first three choices for a remote posting as: Masset, in the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Holberg, on the north tip of Vancouver Island, and Goose Bay, in Labrador. After all, how many others would be requesting such a posting to a station or base at “the end of nowhere”? Probably not that many, surely.

The "Altes Rathaus" - the old town hall.
Predictably, after three years, posting season for me did come up once again. It would be time to leave one home and make another. I was confident that new challenges would await in one of the three relatively isolated venues that we had submitted. Indeed, as it turned out, our posting would be an adventure - but not quite in the “remote” location we had imagined. We were informed that we would be serving with Canadian Forces Europe – in Lahr, Germany. Well, that would be just fine too!

The "Stork Tower" - remains of a castle built c1240.
"Home" may be a combination of variables. It may a location, where there is a dwelling whether it be a house, an apartment or flat, a cabin or a cottage or whatever. It is where we hang up our coats and where we most often leave from and return to as we go about our lives. But a home is more than that. “Home” is where we have connections with family or friends – others who enrich our lives. I think home it is also a place were we are engaged in activities that bring meaning and value to our lives. Such activities may be in the context or work or play. When these three variables are present, we most likely feel very much “at home”.

Buildings  can be complete artistry.
When we arrived back in Lahr this time, there had been many changes. In the last twenty years, since the Canadian base here closed, the military population has been replaced by a large number of newcomers from Russia and Turkey, beginning new lives of their own. The past-acknowledged “good times” of high wages, relatively high employment, and large numbers of resident Canadian families with significant disposable income are over.

We searched out the building where we had lived for two years. Our apartment was large and gracious and just steps away from both the vibrant city and the forest trails. We have fond memories from our time in that place.  It was no longer there, however, replaced by more modern units.

Happy faces...everywhere.
Of course, it was a little disappointing to discover that it was gone, but life moves on. The fact is, however, not only was the apartment gone, but so were the social connections, the working relationships, the friendships, and so many other things that gave our lives meaning and texture in that time and place. We had tried, but as Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go home again.” At the very least, it’s not easy. Lahr is still a delightful and very beautiful city on the edge of the Black Forest…but it is no longer “home”.

It is good to be back here. Many memories are stirred and re-embraced. The good times we had in what turned out to be an incredibly historic time (the Berlin Wall came down) will be cherished forever.

As circumstances change in life, the nature of “home” may change. That's life...and that's all right.

On the other hand, maybe it is the journey that is "home" - if so, none of us are ever far away.



  1. Beautiful town and amazing flowers! Some say "home is where your heart is" and from your roaming life, your heart is in many places. Others say "home is where you hang your hat" and you also do that in many places. So I'm going to say for you and Joan "home is where your kayaks and ocean waters await" . It really is (getting close to) time to come "home", so hussle along. :)

  2. I love the idea of a flower festival in November, especially when it's minus 12 degrees and snowing here! :-) Gen.

  3. Hi Linda...just enjoy the break - it'll eventually end. Haha!

    Hey Gen, yes, I saw the weather out your way. Looks like winter has truly come. It was even warmer today in these parts. Sorry. :) Great to hear from you. Duncan.

  4. Hi Duncan and Joan,
    Wonderful pictures and posts.
    Enjoy your time.
    Thanks for sharing your adventures.
    Jen, from High River

  5. Thanks Jen, we always appreciate you coming by and always happy to share. Warmest wishes to you all from Joan and I. Duncan.

    PS Kind of cool to have both Jen and Gen stopping by regularly. :)