We had excellent driving conditions, nearly the entire way, from Gierle BE to Mittweida DE. The pre-dusk light was warm and vivid, and seemed to hang on a little longer, just for our amusement. The countryside scenery along the A4 Autobahn was vast and rolling. No major hills, anywhere in sight, but in many ways we were very much feeling like we were back in Kentucky, USA… except for the perfectly clean air, the wind farms, the border-post remnants, and the Audis flying by us at 200 kph. Hank was as giddy as a kindergarten child, and made repeated, feeble attempts at translating every road-sign along the way.
When we finally reached Mittweida, the sun had finally grown tired of entertaining us, and tucked itself comfortably beyond the hills, somewhere west, high above the Atlantic Ocean. The winding country roads of Mittweida, at night… and the leftover puddles from an earlier storm, made the home-stretch a bit of a skill-test. But with GeePuS (Dre’s petname for GPS) as my Co-Pilot, we landed safely around 10pm at 42 Leisniger Straße, Mittweida DE.
The buzzer on the entry had one familiar name. Dr. Greuel. Although Dre is no doctor… and he did not hesitate to inform us that was his mother’s title, after a few welcoming hugs and high-fives, of course. Willy often calls him Dr. Dre, ironically enough, and to be quite frank, the man is smarter than most doctors I’ve ever met.
Before we knew it, people were arriving to greet us. Frances (Dre’s neighbor and dear friend) showed up with Tobias, and it wasn’t long before the Freibergers were flyin’ and the Eirelikör shots were not far behind. Mannfried (Frances’ father) told us all about the different schnapps and liqueurs they make by hand, and how they all do it together, combining resources, and providing additional excuses to enjoy quality time and fellowship. We learned quickly, that when one omits gases from any orifice, you do not want to be the last one to touch your fist to your forehead. If I had a photo, i’d insert it here… but thankfully I don’t, so it will be sooner forgotten. (yes, I was often the whipping boy… sigh) Needless to say, the welcoming party went on well into the night.. and almost into the morning.
We wanted to sleep as much as possible, since it was our first real day off since we started packing, back home. (One could say the Monday before, Kroegentocht, was a day off.. but the music, dancing and liquid-fueled merriment took a heavy toll on our bodies) But Frances had other plans… just before noon, the phone was ringing off the hook, and Dre informed us that “brunch” was ready to serve.
With our bellies full, and the sun high above… it didn’t take long before we had the cornhole set up, and Lennon (Dre’s son) had returned from school. Dre got his MS from the University of Cincinnati, so he single-handedly introduced the game to the good people of Mittweida. I joked that I’d be happy to move there, and build them out of his garage… but no one laughed. dangit. oh well…
The warmth of the sun, and the food in our bellies… combined with the aftermath of Kroegentocht, AND an 8-hour drive from Belgium to Deutschland, quickly sent me crawling back to my comfy covey for a nap. I threw in a load of laundry, and drifted off with little effort. Hank, Willy, Dre, and Frances set off for a guided tour in Dre’s jeepish vehicle. (can’t remember the name of that thing.. but it was old, and it was cool) I regretted staying behind, a little, but there was no room in the vehicle for a 230 lb. bass-player. I’m confident their experience was greater, being able to cruise like that, and I genuinely needed to catch up on some zzzzz’s.
Lennon knocked on the door to my room at 4:15, asking if I could give him a ride to soccer practice. The gang had not yet returned from their tour, and I readily obliged. Lennon’s a good kid. At just 9 years old, he claims his English is better than his teacher… and he is already quite the athlete. He shows tremendous love and respect for his father, and takes amazing care of his dog, Diesel. To me, he’s on the right track… and I look forward to seeing what he will become as a young man.
I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with Lennon. It was therapeutic for me, missing my children so much. I can’t help but hope that he will get to meet my son, Owen, someday. They could both learn so much, about this world, from each other.
Frances and the fellas returned from the tour, and we decided to walk up to the ice cream stand. Literally, 50 meters from Dre’s front door. Excellent soft-serve ice cream, in waffelkones:) Yum. We then proceeded to walk, with Frances’ friend, Jana (Yonna), down to “Swan Lake”, which is a shallow pond/arboretum.. just a hop and a skip from Leisniger Straße. Conversation with Jana came easy, because her English was good (although she would not admit as much) and she seemed happy to tag along. I learned that she is also into photography, and works at the Mittweida University of Applied Science, as a social media manager/professional.
It wasn’t long before our day-off expired.. and we wrapped ourselves in autumnal attire. Dre built a fire in the mortar-block chiminea, in the corner of his backyard. The KC 33 (East German guitar) made its way out of the house, and the Freibergers were crackin’ in time with the burning coals of pine. We each took turns, singing the songs our folks taught us to sing.
We would have probably pushed on ’til dawn, yet again, but a cry from a neighbors’ window let us know we were pushing our luck. And the realization that our first gig, in Deutschland, was less than 12 hours away… helped us oblige the neighbors’ call for peace… and quiet.