To be immersed in nature - anywhere in the world - and if only for 15 minutes, is my detox. Aches and pains, fatigue, stress, and frustrations slip away with every step. I inhale and glance off to the horizon.
This is the Franconian countryside, and what I see is rolling green meadows, dotted with patches of forest, and accented by steeples, some near and some far. My own breathing, bird melodies, and the occasional church bell break the idyllic silence.
There are no power stations (nuclear or otherwise), refineries, or even factories. For a moment, none of that exists. I'm in a place of untainted, timeless beauty.
The absence of oceans, lagoons, and mountains, doesn't bother me. I'm reminded of South Africa, a place that has many of those things, but where a woman must think twice about exploring nature on her own. A place with intense beauty, but extreme poverty.
Unfortunately, those things cannot be overlooked.
In Germany, there is no turmoil. People are content. Families are in tact (more so than in America, anyway). Nobody's starving, living in shacks, or dying on the streets. Children are not begging. What Germany lacks in natural wonders, they make up for in tranquility.
And its residents are a peaceful people. For the most part, Germans are reliable. They're predictable. They're real. They won't ask "How are you?" unless they care. Smiles, hugs, and kisses are used sparingly, but mean far more.
The next day, I bring my sister on the trail behind the house, to share this little piece of heaven with her. She takes pictures of the ancient old cross situated along the dirt path, and the town's big white church steeple. The dog runs up ahead, and I wonder if this place is as special for him as it is for me.
It's nearly perfect, and suddenly, it feels very much like home.