This morning, for no particular reason, I decide to go on a walk. It’s cold outside, close to zero degrees celcius, but it is a clear day and the anticipation of a sun-filled afternoon makes this morning feel less cold. Behind the low fences surrounding little gardens facing the main street I spot the first buds on bare branches. Spring is beginning to emerge from the shadow of Winter (UNDER CONSTRUCTION, as Dave says), but if you looked at the landscape from a distance, you wouldn’t know.
The inner streets are empty. Occasionally someone comes out of a house, gets into a car, and drives away in a hurry. The weather defines your pace of life. At the town square an open market has sprung up. I walk through it, taking in the scent of fresh vegetables and filtering – ignoring, really – the odour of meat. Between two stalls I run into Jörg, a colleague.
“Ah, hello!” he says. “You’re here shopping as well.” Then, observing my camera: “Or, photographing?!”
I smile and nod: “That’s right. Do you also live here in Wiesloch?”
“No,” he says, “I live in Mühlhausen, but my wife likes the bio vegetables from this market so I usually come here.”
“Ah, okay. Have a nice day, then.”
“You too! Bye.”
I walk about, taking a few photographs. At one point, as I cross a woman who’s been observing me, she smiles and says, “Nice colours, isn’t it?!” I stop and show her the paprika photo I’ve just taken. “Beautiful!” she says; I thank her and continue walking. There’s a story behind every picture; an image reveals only the partial truth.
In the park the trees, still bare, wear the same look they had a few weeks back. They seem at play with each other, arms touching, elbows locked, like a giant puppet show in the sky. In a few weeks this view will be gone.
Up ahead, next to an open parking lot, there‘s a sign warning people: “Stop the thievery! Don’t leave valuables in the car!” Such signs, in cities around the world, always adopt a negative, cautionary stance – don’t do this or that, else you’ll be punished or victimised – like a mother telling her little son to comply else the demon would come and take him away. What if we reversed this stance? What if the signs read: “If you wish to let thieves pick up your precious belongings, please leave them here in the car.” or “Park here now, pay fine later.” They’d serve the same purpose, it would be more fun, and this would also create more jobs for copywriters. (I’m sure this isn’t an original idea; perhaps some town or city already has such signs in place.)
On my way back back, not too far from my house, I spot two old ladies at a bus stop, engrossed in conversation. I try to imagine what they are talking about:
Old lady 1: Did you read what that neighbour of ours wrote yesterday on Twitter? It was such an unbelievable lie!
Old lady 2: No, I haven’t read it yet. Last evening I was busy playing Assasin’s Creed Brotherhood on my Xbox.
I smile inwardly as I cross them, but then I begin to wonder if such a conversation would, in a not-too-distant future, be considered ‘normal’. If it already isn’t, that is.