"Give a Piece a Chance." — Books. Blog. Pie Classes. And a Pinch of Activism.

World Piece: Germany’s Black Forest

I had had talks with several friends over the course of my travels about Marcus, about how I was going to teach a pie class in the Black Forest village of Alpirsbach where we got married (in 2003). I was going to stay at the same hotel where we had our reception and spent our wedding night. I was going to light a candle in the church where we had our ceremony. But the conversations cast a darker shadow onto this plan. “You don’t need to open up the wound,” friends cautioned me. It was true. I didn’t need that. I needed to move forward. And as much as this trip was about revisiting my past, it was about letting go of it to make room for a future. (You didn’t really think this trip was all about pie, did you?)

My Europe leg was the last and the longest—a full month instead of the 10-day increments I had been doing—and yet I had not committed to any specific places or dates for it. It was a lesson in staying open. Had I not been so flexible I might have missed out on one of the highlights of my journey: four days in the Black Forest.

Left to right: Me, Marc, Bibiana, and Marcus in 2004
So yeah, I did go to the Black Forest, but not to Alpirsbach. A last minute invitation steered me to my friends’ cabin a few mountains and valleys away. So instead of indulging in memories of what was lost I chose the path to something new. And that choice led to what were some of the most fun, most joyful, most magical pie-filled days of my entire three-month journey.

I met up with Bibiana and Marc (and their 2 kids) and our mutual friend Silke (and her 2 kids) at Marc’s family’s cabin to join their short holiday. They were all friends of Marcus and mine when we lived in Stuttgart. I hadn’t seen Bibiana and Marc since 2005, when they moved to Berlin. I hadn’t seen Silke since 2009, at Marcus’s funeral.

(NOTE: This would have been a better blog post if the internet hadn’t crashed in the middle of writing it. So from here you get the abbreviated version so I can move on to the next updates. I am already 2 months behind.)

We quickly settled into a routine: pick wild blueberries before breakfast. Gather enough for both eating and for making pie. Hike down the creek every afternoon, bushwhacking through the branches and climbing over the rocks in the freezing cold water to get to the lake below for a swim. Come back to the cabin and drink Tannen Zapfle, a local Black Forest beer, which happened to be Marcus’s favorite. Teach a pie class to the kids–yes, every day we had a pie class. Besides the blueberry, we made peach, banana cream, and apple. Make dinner and serve it at the big outdoor table, and eat pie for dessert. Light candles and watch the stars. We even timed it perfectly for one of the year’s biggest meteor showers. Sleep in the loft like we were Goldie Locks and the bears. Laugh, talk, reminisce, tease, explore, read, brush teeth. Wake up and repeat.

Instead of feeling sad in the place where I had so many memories of my late husband, I made new ones. Happy ones. With a new generation. And those young kids added so much joy. Their wonder, exuberance, innocence add up to the promise of a bright future, of making the world a better place. To be around them in this enchanted forest of a setting was a surprising and huge help in moving forward, in honoring my past but also letting go of it.  I had such a great time I wish the stay had been longer. I am already reserving my bed in the loft for next summer.

Next post:  Germany continued….On to Aachen

Blueberry Boot Camp

Like bears foraging in the forest

Rinsing our berries in the outdoor fountain

Ace pie maker. Bibiana & Marc’s daughter Kim, age 10

Papa Bear (Marc). He’s been coming to this cabin
since he was his own kids’ age.

Best pie classroom ever.
Me, Silke and Bibiana….After eating blueberry pie

Kim learns to make a lattice top

This melts my heart. Kim & her brother Luc made welcome signs
for Silke & her kids’ arrival. What better way to say welcome than
with a warm blueberry pie — made from hand-picked wild blueberries!
Talk about good for the soul….

Silke’s girls got creative during the apple peeling session

If you’re ever in the Black Forest, you have to try this beer!

Did I mention we were staying in a cabin?  

This is the cabin….in a private forest. What a rare treat this is in Germany.
Instead of lighting candles at the Black Forest church where Marcus
and I got married, we lit them at the cabin in the forest.
Which was even better. Way better.