October 16, 2009

Fact is Better: Mysterious and Reassuring

I took a drive to the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire – it’s a thirty-four mile scenic national byway that can you can pull off from at random points to hike through the surrounding woods; and, in autumn it is perfect food for the soul.

I thought I would take myself on an adventure and drive through the “Kanc” at this glorious time of year, reveling in the brilliant hues of New England foliage, while breathing deeply in the refreshing and bitingly chill air that warns of snow to come.

I knew that I would experience perfect autumn catharsis.

But, the world is a mysterious and reassuring place. Through several legs of my travels, I ended up running into this elderly couple from Germany.

Who seemingly had all the right things to say to me at this moment, this juncture, in my own life’s journey.

*after taking some pictures of the lower falls, I sit down between some rocks to take in the scenery. After a few moments, I look over my shoulder and see a very tall older gentleman in a long tan coat and grey cap smoking a pipe. He looks at me curiously.*
German Man: “Ahh, look, it is a small, colorful stone.”
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
German Man: “Macht nichts. You did not startle me, Speaking Stone. You are just very compact sitting there. Are you not cold?”
Me: “No. Where’re you from?”
German Man: “You won’t know it: a small town in Germany.”
Me: “You sounded British there for a second. I lived in England and thought . . .”
German Man: *sneer* “Oh, the British.”
Me: *laughing*
German Man: “Those Anglo’s. They only wish they were us. They would have to swim very hard and very long through that English Channel to reach real Europe.”
Me: “I was a French person living in England – you know how they feel about the French?”
German Man: “Ahhh, parlez-vous français, Peu de Pierre?”
Me: “Je parle français un peu, mais tres mal.”
German Man: *lighting his pipe* “Very impressive."

*at a different scenic view, while reading about the legend of the “Rocky Gorge” on a large sign, I smell an earthy-cherry pipe scent. I turn around and see my tall German friend standing serenely right behind me. I smile widely – there is something calm and inviting about this stranger.*
German Man: “Ahh, my friend The Speaking Stone! Hello again! Are your feet not cold?” *he gestures at my flip-flops*
Me: “Never.”
German Man: “I see you and I am cold for both of us.”
Me: *I offer my hand out* “I’m Stephanie by the way.”
German Man: *he shakes my hand warmly* “Schön, dich kennenzulernen, Stephanie! I’m Walter.”
Me: “Nice to meet you, too, Walter.”
German Man: “We have many more stops together on this journey, no?”
Me: “If we’re lucky.”
German Man: “Here is to our crossing paths then.”

*Later, after hiking for a spell, I come around a corner and see my German friend and his wife overlooking a peaceful pond. I walk up quietly behind them, but it isn’t long before they turn around and smile kindly*
German Man: “Ahh, and there she is. This is my wife, Helga. Helga dieses ist der ‘Sprechende Stein’”
Me: “Hi, I’m Stephanie.” *I offer my hand out*
German Woman: *her hands are damp from holding red leaves she’s collected and she blusshes in embarassment* “I am sorry.”
Me: “No worries.”
German Man: “It is radiant, no?”
Me: “Absolutely. Have you ever been here?”
German Man: “No. It is our first time. We were in Maine yesterday.”
Me: “I’m from Maine!”
German Man: “I know. I can see Maine all over you. This is why I am telling you this. It was beautiful.”
Me: “Thank you. It is. But, we don’t have this – ” *I gesture to the white cap mountains covered in snow, lined with the brilliant shades of red and orange hued foliage*
German Man: “It is good, no?, to go out of your way . . .erm . . .to find a different path to take . . . than what one is use to or knows. Because you will always find yourself in perfect moments you were not expecting. Moments you could not create if you tried. Much like this, Speaking Stone.
Me: “Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
German Man: “Perhaps we will see you again? And if not – ” *he shrugs, pulling a long drag from his pipe* - “than we had this moment, ja?”

I didn’t, in fact, end up running into them again after that.

But, I had that moment.
That mysterious and reassuring moment.

True story.

Further proof that fact is better than fiction.