Last weekend was our first weekend at home, together, with no houseguests to speak of and no sets plans with anyone, since before we got married. Originally having looked forward being able to sleep in, be lazy and watch TV in bed, we scrapped those plans in favor of activities that required movement. Three weeks of dining, wedding and wine have taken their toll and we both feel like we’ve not only gained a partner, but more than a few kilos as well. Of course we’re not perfect, so our first ‘physical activity’ for the weekend was a bike ride… to a beer garden… for lunch.
It was the kind of day where you walked outside and were almost instantly coated in condensation from the humidity and felt beaten down by the heat. Most people in Munich surrendered by either moving outside to a cooler place on a balcony or under a tree in the garden or headed to the river or surrounding lakes to laydown and breathe until sunset. Riding along the river provided a little relief, but the air was hot, sticky and heavy. Pulling it into your lungs required an exhausting amount of effort. As we rode along all we saw were a mass of humanity lining the banks, peppered with umbrellas and a patchwork of towels and blankets. Bodies, both brown and burning, were laid out in the sun. Everyone seemed ready to stay put until nightfall and most had the means to grill but clearly no one was going to start that up until the sun was closer to the horizon. At noon, when we rode by, it was still just too damn hot.
Standing just before a bridge along the way, an odd sight caught my eye. A gorgeous, shiny, open carriage stood on the rocky bank of the river, minus any occupants or signs of how it may have gotten there. I shouted up ahead at Oliver, “Where’s the horse?”
Around the bend just up ahead came my answer. We stopped at a snack hut for a drink and stood in the shade, looking at the river. It took a moment to adjust to the light reflecting off the surface, and then something took shape.
A man in a fedora was seated up high on a large white dray horse, bareback with only a lead line. He was lifting children up, one at a time and taking them into the middle of the river. The smaller ones just clung to him as he urged the animal to the other side, through deep sections where all you could see was its ears and nose above the water, submerging the pair up to the chest. The older children were braver and, once in the middle, were climbing onto the horse’s broad, round rump and diving into the current and swimmming ashore.
Each time it went across and sank into the water, you’d wonder, will it stumble? And every time, it made it gracefully and smoothly across, never once lunging or shaking off its passengers and seemed to enjoy doing it. Once, when a little chubby boy was taking too long to decide about whether to go or not, it reached down with its huge head and nudged him. When that brought no immediate result, it dipped lower into the water and, showing its impatience, drenched all within reach, including the boy, head-to-toe. The entire scene was another one of those wonderful, only-in-Munich, moments that makes living here that much more interesting.
And now, after all the complaints ranging from “too cold!” to “too damn hot!” the weather has finally calmed down to a Goldilocks-friendly, “Ahhhh, just right”. The Bavarian skies are bright blue and spotted liberally with big white fluffy clouds. There’s a soft breeze blowing and the air has that warm, leisurely feel to it, just inviting you to lay down and smell the trees growing. It is perfect beergarden, river and lake weather. Anyone with a car and some sense has long since grabbed their flips flops and headed out.
Here’s wishing you the same…