Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Days

      We're sitting in a coffee and drinks establishment on the ground floor of a small hotel in Guben, Germany, which is the border town adjoining the Polish town of Gubin. The two are divided by a few bridges that cross the Nysa River, Neisse in German. So many places have names in two or more languages, the borders in this part of Europe having shifted so often through the centuries, wars and regimes.

      It amazes me that crossing between the two countries involves nothing more than a stroll across a short bridge. No border guards, no identity checks, no guns. It's like crossing between Quebec and Ontario, except that the language shift is even more immediate and drastic. But to think of the bitter wars and political divisions that Europe has endured in the last century alone, it's incredible that such non-borders exist here at all. The US and Canada used to boast of having the "world's longest undefended border". It may still be one of the longest, but far from being "undefended" anymore.

      We spent Easter with Ponczka's Mom and brother and neice and others. It's been eating and drinking and sleeping ever since we arrived, and lots and lots of laughter. Great to see Ponczka with her family and to see where all that "happy baby" brilliance of hers comes from. Last night, something funny was said. Mom started laughing, then Ponczka got going, and the two of them were in hysterics for over five minutes. Beautiful!

      Vacationing with Ponczka is the best thing ever, and we'll be at it for a month. Next stop is Berlin, then Odense in Denmark, hopefully with a brief visit to Copenhagen. Then we go to Tiberius in Israel, for my Dad's 90th birthday! My brother will be there too, with his wife Debbie. Not so often that my brother, Dad and I get to be together. It's a blessing we're really looking forward to. My brother and I haven't been in Berlin together in FIFTY years. That will be something, too.

      It's going to be a great month!

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