The Haunting Beauty of the Black Forest

Kirchzarten, in the region of Freiburg, is a scenic southwestern village at the edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and a place where I have been traveling to teach almost yearly since 1984. I’m sponsored by the IAK: The Institute for Kinesiology and New Thinking in Germany. I’m staying at the Hotel Fortuna, and my course today is held at the majestic Kurhaus (spa house), where Gail and I have taught together many times. This spacious building with its enormous windows looking out to the beauty of the mountains and the Black Forest is, for me, a favorite place to coach people on their vision. The distant horizons and natural colors and vistas invite movement and perspective along with explorations of new thinking.

Today I began teaching Creative Vision, a course in discovering how to see, including how to coordinate one’s looking with other sensory abilities. As we worked, there was something new to see out the windows. It has begun to snow—something I hadn’t anticipated. The students told me that it doesn’t often snow here in October. And as my visits to Kirchzarten have generally been in August, the flurries of snow were an unfamiliar sight.

My long-time friend, Alfred Schatz, a founder of IAK and International Faculty Member, introduced me to the class and told the humorous story of how, after Gail and I taught our first course there and completed our final statements in the closing circle, the students didn’t want to break the circle to go home. Although Alfred will not be translating this week, he has previously been my translator ever since that first meeting. It was wonderful to hear him talk today about our good times together.

My translator on this trip is Lisa Wennekes, Renate’s daughter and my goddaughter. After the class, Lisa and I walk to a health food store so she can buy a toothbrush, but she emerges empty-handed. We ask at the desk of the Sonne, as hotels often have toothbrushes available for travelers who’ve forgotten theirs. We then continue on to the Sonne restaurant, where we meet my old friend Susanne Degendorfer for dinner. I have the lamb served over sautéed onions, and it’s just the way I like it: tender, succulent, and falling off the bone. The potatoes au gratin and long green beans are served family-style, and we enjoy shared food and stories.

Susanne and I both recognize our waitress—a pleasant woman in her early 40s, wearing a provincial German dress and apron. I have been seeing her here since she was in her late teens and just starting this job. The hotel manager, another person that Gail and I have seen here for many years, finds us at our table to present Lisa with a toothbrush, and all is well.

© 2012 by Paul E. Dennison. All Rights Reserved.


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