Let me begin by stating that I loved my study abroad experience in Heidelberg, Germany. It was world changing. Paradigm shifting. Everything was different for me after that. But even if amazing study abroad times, a bad day comes along now and then.
This bad day in Heidelberg was the first day where it felt like Spring. I didn’t have to wear my much-hated winter jacket. The scarf and mittens were in the hamper. Even the stone steps… ah, the stone steps… leading down from our haus were free from snow. I stepped out of the door to make my way down the hill to town where our classes were held. The air was fresh and green; invigorating. I took a deep breath of air, filling my lungs and spirit with Spring, and went skipping down the stairs. But skipping didn’t match my exuberance at being freed from that jacket. So I started ski hopping, slaloming one way and then the other down the stone steps until the last few where I didn’t see the ice. Yes… Gravity got between me and my Spring day.
I tweaked my knee that day, sliding into home down the icy stone steps with one knee bent awkwardly behind me. A few years later I would exacerbate that injury practicing tae kwon do and dislocating my patella. Now my yoga instructors all look curiously at my Warrior 2 pose as my poor knee shakes like a banshee, trying to get into and stay in correct alignment.
That is the back story for my “Bad Heidelberg Sort of Day” story. Fast forward to last week when we got a not necessarily unusual snow fall for this time of year, but one that was followed almost immediately by rain and then by freezing temperatures again. The rain melted the snow overnight, and the sun shone in a turquoise blue sky that I hadn’t seen in a long, long time. It was still cold, but not cold enough to require the much dreaded heavy winter jacket. I was, however, wearing my scarf and gloves because they are too cute to retire for the season just yet.
We were heading out the door, running just a hair late as usual, and rushing. Little Man didn’t want to walk to the car and asked to be carried. So I picked him up, opened the door, smelled the early Spring air, filled my lungs with the green smells, and glanced down at the four short wooden stairs leading from our door to the sidewalk. Something about the scent of the air, the feeling of imminent (hopefully) Spring, and the sight of the steps brought back to mind that bad day in Heidelberg. Eyes widened, arm tighter around Little Man, I moved carefully to the side of the steps and gripped the handrail, taking slow, measured, careful steps. All to no avail.
The last step was slicked with a veneer of ice, looking exactly like the rainwater that adorned the stairs before it. I stepped on the stair and suddenly found myself falling both forward and backward at the same time, trying desperately to keep Little Man from going down hard too. I almost succeeded. I hit the ground, he was set down abruptly as I then slid backwards turtle style over the other edge of the sidewalk into an ornamental garden bed, and he tipped backwards bonking his head. In the end we were both in tears, mostly from shock, but also from our bumps. Dave wasn’t sure who to comfort first or more, rightly picking up Little Man and giving boo-boo kisses where ever he could.
Once again gravity and the laws of physics had gotten between me and a nice Spring morning. It took a couple of days before Little Man was willing to let me carry him to and from the car, and it was slightly amusing to see him battle with himself over whether or not he really was tired enough to want to be carried and risk a “bad Heidelberg sort of day,” or if it was a safer bet to walk on his own.
The whole experience got me thinking about my time in Heidelberg, especially when I saw a few Facebook posts from former students reminiscing about their times in study abroad programs. I’m going to have to do a little research to see if I can’t recreate one of my favorite Heidelberg dishes… I need to replace the bad sort of day memory with a good one, and the best way to do that is through food. So keep your eyes peeled… It will be coming your way soon.