All Because the Sun is Not Shining in Germany

My friend Sabine recently commented on Facebook about the sun in Germany. Evidently it hasn’t been shining much lately.

In an instant I was transported back to summer of my 14th year and a farm in Germany. Although Sabine is far younger than I am, her parents and mine were good friends in Pakistan. It was a German-American alliance of the best sort. I remember a mutual love and respect for the Munzinger family and we adored their (at the time) little kids – Sabine and André.

The summer of 1974 saw us leaving Pakistan for a year furlough in the United States. I would begin high school in a small, town in Massachusetts, the town of my birth. My older brother, Stan, had just graduated from high school in Murree and he and my brother Tom had planned a trip overland through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and more. They would make their way to Europe, and from there fly to the United States. It is ironic, or perhaps not, that their way was smooth until they reached the Detroit airport. This is another story but it belongs to my brothers.

The rest of us and my cousin Barb would travel through Europe before arriving in Boston. The Munzinger family contacted relatives and arranged for us to stay with these relatives on a farm in Germany.

So there we were, on acres of beautiful farmland in the countryside near Koln. Green and lush as can be and treated royally by this delightful family.

It was on this trip that I learned the only German I know “Mine auto ist kaputt” taught to me by Sabine’s grandmother, a complete delight. We laughed until my stomach ached with the strain of fun as we tried to communicate – she a white-haired woman, I a confused teen, coming straight from a protected, small setting miles away from Germany. I milked a goat and learned that I didn’t like warm milk straight from the source. I tasted my first chocolate with liqueur in it, which, for this missionary kid who had never tasted alcohol, felt scandalous. I ate more than a few chocolates that day, feeling sweetly devious and grown-up.

We, strangers to these German relatives, were welcomed because of our connections and relationship with a German family that had made their home in Pakistan. It’s remarkable, really. Living now in an area of the United States where it can feel difficult to make friends with people, and dropping in spontaneously to homes is reserved for only the best of friends, I marvel at our welcome on that farm near Koln.

This memory wells up, all because the sun is not shining in Germany.

The way memories are called up is fascinating in any setting for any person, whether they have lived in the same town or grown up across the globe. And perhaps this is one of the marks of growing older as well, we want to capture those memories through pictures and prose. In the absence of a place to return to, those of us in the between worlds category have memories called up through reading newspapers of uprisings and drone attacks, through typhoons and regime changes, through hearing about someone’s vacation and because the sun is not shining in Germany.

It’s a world where memories are not bound to one geographic location, rather they are spread across the globe with this friend in Canada, the next in Germany, the third in Mongolia. Our tribe spreads its wings far and its impossible to keep up with where we have landed.

But the memories are as sweet as liqueur filled chocolates, and twice as satisfying. 


cranberry muffins

With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away for those who live in the United States, Stacy brings us a great Cranberry Muffin recipe. Thank you Stacy!

18 thoughts on “All Because the Sun is Not Shining in Germany

  1. I read today’s post (yay! you found Velvet Ashes!) and then the title of this post caught my eye. I grew up hearing my mom talk about the winters in Germany, how the sun didn’t shine much, and how it would really get her down, especially the last two years. Amazing how such a simple phrase can bring such a memory.


  2. “Our tribe spreads its wings far and its impossible to keep up with where we have landed” – such a poignant statement for me, too. Having grown up in Germany, emigrated to the US, lived in the Caribbean, volunteered in the Ukraine and Ghana, and altogether have visited over 30 countries now… I often wonder what happened to specific people….some of them, amazingly, I have found on Facebook. There is nothing more satisfying than having long conversations with people who shared your life decades ago and who you are just now able to catch up with. It’s like finding a long-lost treasure, unwrapping it and looking at it with wonder.


    1. Yes and Yes! Love the picture of this being a long-lost treasure. You’ve expressed exactly what I feel. I’ve met people on Facebook as well but it’s one of the things I love about the blog venue. You can only share bits and pieces on Facebook – this gives more room for a longer review of the memory shared. Oh and on the number of countries you’ve visited – do you ever have contests with people on how many countries?? My husband and I love competing that way. We always argue over whether airports count or not.


      1. I would do the contest, but unfortunately I’m surrounded by people who don’t travel much…so when I do meet someone who has travelled I am more interested in their actual experiences than the number of countries.
        Airports, in my humble opinion, only count with the necessary qualifications :-)


  3. I was encouraged by this post today. Like you, someone’s comment in passing may conjure what seems to be a random memory of a far off place from a time long past. And I continue to try and write those memories down because, unless someone says the exact right thing, I may never think of that experience again. I also appreciated this post because I lived in Germany several years and yes, the sun does not shine much this time of year, but when you said “Germany,” I didn’t think of the lack of sunshine, I thought of all the happy times my family shared there. Thanks for taking the time to write this post!


  4. In both Colombia and Costa Rica, I’ve had wonderful experiences just dropping in on people. I tried it a few times in the US, and found that people might be taken aback but (if they aren’t in the midst of something urgent) usually end up enjoying it.

    My dad and I visited his German relatives in summer 1983, and had a wonderful time. They held several parties while we were there, setting up tables on the lawn and eating and drinking well into the night. A German family farm is a fascinating operation, and we loved eating the fancy cheeses and sausages produced from their cattle. We ran into several unexpected cultural issues, like when Cousin Karl took us to a park to see some ancient monastic caves. Dad and I wore jeans, but Karl wore a suit and tie! Dad was embarrassed about underdressing.


    1. This is a GREAT memory – thank you. The cross-cultural piece on over or underdressing deserves its own memories. When we first arrived in Cairo, I was told, “when you go to a wedding, wear your fanciest clothes and all your jewelry. Top it off with your highest heels, and you will still be underdressed” Those words were totally true.


  5. Marilyn, was fuer eine besondere Erinnerung (what a special memory). The rain often adds a mystical appearance and assures that fields, forests, and meadows are lushly green. Hab eine schoene Woche (have a lovely week), Petra


  6. tons I need to do today, but had to sit down for a few minutes and I chose to read this. Thanks so much for the lovely memory. We didn’t stay very long on the farm, not more than a few days, but it stands out as the high point of our trip through Europe. As I remember, it was quite rainy back then, but what a lovely time we had. Sabine, if you read this, do give our love to your parents. I would love to hear from them.


    1. It makes me so happy that you chose to read this of all the things that you could have chosen! Thank you! It was a great time and great memory. I often think of how unselfish you and dad were around making sure we got to see places on our way back to the US. You must have been so anxious to see family – yet you held off always so we could see the world. Thank you!


      1. Just thinking of that trip and our lovely time at the farm, another memory came flooding back. We flew from Koln to Frankfurt. We were running short of money by then, it was our last stop before heading to the US. Dad decided we could take the train in to our hotel. He looked at the map and it wasn’t far from the station. Do you remember, Marilyn? Barb was carrying lots of books back with her from her time in Indonesia. So we had scattered her books through all our carry-ons, so hers wouldn’t be too heavy. Well, that hotel was much further walking the several blocks than it looked on Dad’s map. We finally arrived and dragged our weary and footsore selves and our bags into a lovely hotel lobby. While he went to check in. the rest of us collapsed into chairs near the door. Dad came back from checking in,’ looking very perturbed. “Guess what?” he said. “I had a voucher for a taxi in with the hotel reservation!” We could have arrived in style. Momentarily I was furious with him. I don’t remember anyone else’s reaction. Then I think we all started to laugh. As “willtravel…” wrote above, I need to write down some of these memories.


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