We ride our bikes along the old tractor paths through the fields of wheat, a gentle breeze blowing the grain in mesmerizing patterns. The way is covered with stones and ruts and sand making it a strenuous trek even for a mountain bike. Despite the effort I force myself to enjoy my surroundings, I look up and try to absorb it all, not only the golden fields but the tall dark evergreens in the distance and the blue sky beyond. There is no one here except for us.
He looks back to check my progress, a little slower these days due to the pregnancy, and I smile at his concern. He stops a moment to check our direction and points out a bee-house on the next rise, breathe through your nose as you ride by as not to inhale one into your mouth, he warns me, I pull my T-shirt up over my nose and breath normally.
The forest engulfs us again and the cool shade is refreshing. I search for wildlife among the trees, perhaps a jack-rabbit, deer or a wild-pig, but I see nothing except birds and a black fly doing laps around my head. A small clearing provides enough sunlight for a patch of wild flowers on a hillside, they are a beautiful lilac color, the contrast against the dark brown and deep green of the pines is breathtaking.
The path rises sharply, I pedal as far as I can then dismount and walk the rest of the way, it feels good to stretch my back. The black fly sees his opportunity and stings me in the calf, but my quick reflex didn't let him get away.
I hurry to the crest where he is waiting with the map, he points out a field full of horses. I point out my bite.
The path seems to end but we follow a driveway through an old farm, as we wave to the girls sitting in the lawn, we found that somehow we were back on track. We rode parallel to a railroad line for a while before finding a road with moderate traffic. Crossing over the street placed us in a small village decorated in cut evergreens, ribbons and flags. After a few moments we hear music and see people walking about. Was church letting out? Or perhaps it was a parade? The music was intensifying as were the number of pedestrians, most dressed in traditional Bavarian attire, the men in lederhosen, feathered hats and hiking boots, the women in long dresses and white laced tops. Kids wore their soccer uniforms.
An old weathered barn was the source of the excitement, a fund-raiser for the local fire-fighters. We jumped off our bikes and walked towards the commotion. Everyone was smiling and laughing, we passed the beer tent and saw the opening to the barn, beautiful antique flags, hand-stiched onto colorful velvet were lined up perfectly at the entrance. Inside were long rows of tables filled to capacity with the villagers who were singing to the folk songs of their youth. I turned to him and saw the smile from ear to ear, he was singing along too, I wished that I had known the words. My father would love this, he said. Anyone could love this, I replied.
A kilometer or two down the road all traces of the fest were gone, it was quiet again. We turned into a corn field to cut back towards our village. I was tired now, the sun was higher in the sky and didn't play with the colors of the earth as it had earlier in the day. As we entered our village, we picked up the pace and sped through the small streets enjoying the cool air against our faces. One more hill to climb until I could see our road, there it is ahead, one last burst of energy, and we're home, again.
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