Matthias Maier | Stories | Week 17 2024 | Maria Frieden in the Black Forest

Completed activities and little lives

Successfully completed tasks, good times with friends and memories of the past have brightened up another chilly and gray week.

The week started wet and cold and the tops of the Jura hills that I can see from my apartment were covered in snow. Nevertheless, I went jogging in the morning after getting my winter jogging clothes out of the wardrobe again. Somehow it has a special atmosphere, the blossoming spring landscape under a dreary sky and wrapped in frosty air. The contrast between the fresh, bright green and the heavy gray of the clouds. It reminds me of the time we are living in. On the one hand, carefree and full of life, but somehow always with a vague feeling that everything that has been before is under threat. Be it through climate catastrophes, political turmoil or war. Or less dramatically: that changes seem to be imminent that will call into question much of what has been so far.

Matthias Maier | Germany's most southern wineyard
Matthias Maier | Cruising duck
Matthias Maier | Stories | Week 17 2024 | Reflecting Power Station

Impressions from the Monday run

Black Forest memories

On Monday evening, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party in the Black Forest. One of those beautiful friendships that began in my teens and have stayed with me for decades. You meet up, you lose each other, you meet up again and you’re right back where you left off. You can still laugh about each other and the things you’ve experienced together until your stomach hurts. As I sat on the bus on the way there and looked out of the window, I wondered how many times I had driven through this valley where I grew up. Family outings came to mind, hikes. Days spent in the woods looking for blueberries to make jam. Countless Sundays spent on a mountain ridge with befriended families. The fathers busy flying their model airplanes, the mothers on deckchairs talking and us children in the adjacent forest where the wind always rustled in the tall fir trees… The yellow, dry summer meadows come to mind, cow pats and the cows that went with them and patches of lupins that bloomed everywhere. 

A few years later, as a teenager, I had a best friend who lived at the far end of the valley. Back then, when we didn’t have a car, it was common to hitchhike from one place to another. Almost every Friday or Saturday evening, you would stand somewhere along the road with your thumb up, only to arrive at the pub where you had arranged to meet hours earlier. Unimaginable nowadays but wonderful memories.

Matthias Maier | Stories | Week 17 2024 | Flowering orchards in the Black Forest

Flowering orchards in the Black Forest

A little life finally came to an end

This week I finished reading the book “A little life” by Hanya Yanagihara. A book that is also about long-term friendships, albeit much more dramatic ones than mine. I bought this book several years ago, the original version in English. There are pictures of me reading the book back in 2017. I always found it difficult to get started. The detailed stories always confused me. I never knew who was being talked about and I struggled to understand the English but still didn’t want to reach for the German translation. So I usually only got as far as 50 pages before I put the book down, read something else and forgot about it. Almost every summer, when I went to the beach, I would put the 720-page book in my suitcase and start reading it again from the beginning because I had already forgotten everything that happened. Last February, when I traveled to New York with it in my luggage, I suddenly found the connection and got beyond the usual pages that I had read so many times before. And then I was totally taken in by the story, by the detailed narratives that suddenly made sense and were so captivating. I haven’t read a book in a long time that captures you so emotionally and opens your eyes to how childhood trauma can affect your whole life. At the end of the book, you are left with a very thoughtful feeling and you miss the characters, with whom you became very familiar precisely because of the constantly detailed descriptions.

Matthias Maier | Stories | Week 17 2024 | A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

“A little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara

The riddle of the Jura hill

I also finished something completely different this week. I found the solution to a puzzle that has been bothering me for some time! I have a view from my kitchen window over the city to the hills of the Jura. And as I spend a lot of time there preparing vegetables for cooking or washing dishes, I often look out of this window and always discover something new. A few months ago, a large but diseased tree was felled, in which magpies had a nest and there was always a bird or two perched. This opened up the view of the whole range of hills and I noticed a mountain rising up behind the first row of hills with a prominent rocky outcrop on one side. I was determined to find out the name of this mountain. To do this, I tried several times to use maps to determine the hills that were within view of my kitchen window. But somehow, I never found a hill that matched the view I had from home. On Saturday, I was on the train to Zurich and, as usual, I looked at my dream house just before we passed the town of Sissach. A small house, a barn actually, standing alone on a slope between two trees. I had noticed this house many years ago, you can see it from the highway as well as from the train. Every time I pass it with someone, I say that I would like to live there. A simple, a little life. After taking a picture of the house (which I usually do) I turned my head to the left and looked through the opposite train window. And there I saw this rock face at the top of a hill that fell away steeply. It was the mountain I was looking for, called the Sissacher Fluh, as I soon found out. As proof, I’m going to hike up there in the next few weeks to see if there’s a view of Basel (which there is, according to descriptions I found, but of course I want to see it for myself).

Matthias Maier | Stories | Week 17 2024 | The little house I call my dream home

The little house I call my dream home

A successful working week

The preparations for my exhibition are almost complete. Almost all the pictures are framed, the invitations have been sent out and the week was generally characterized by a lot of work and a lot of progress. All in all, it was a week in which I completed a lot of things. That always leaves a good feeling. Like an hour of sunshine in all the gray that I happened to catch on Wednesday when I went jogging again. The lovely pictures belie the fact that it was pretty cold…but never mind. 

Matthias Maier | The city behind the forest
Matthias Maier | A run in the forest
Matthias Maier | Beloved sculpture

A moment of sunshine

Main Image The chapel Maria Frieden in the Black Forest