conspiracies

Whenever you’re faced with an explanation of what’s going on in Washington,
the choice between incompetence and conspiracy,
always choose incompetence.

Charles Krauthammer


(the severed peach leaves / Julie Cook / 2017)


(a once spritely spry apple tree / Julie Cook / 2017)

Well there has certainly been a bunch of mumbo jumbo out there lately over conspiracy theories
and those responsible instigators…those troublesome clandestine conspiracy theorists.
Because isn’t it is because of “them”, whoever the thems are,
that all of this shadowy pandemonium get’s its base to begin with??

But I’m digressing here as I need to address my own conspiracy theory…

You may remember a couple of weeks back when I posted a picture of a ripening apple we
had growing on one of the four apple trees?
For whatever reason….I’ve never had much luck growing apples nor
my peaches for that matter.
But this year I was really hopeful.

We had two apples on one of the four apple trees and one of the four peach trees was
loaded with about 11 little growing golf ball size peaches.
Maybe this was going to be my year…

So the other evening after my gentleman farmer of a husband had conducted his evening overseeing
of the 50 green Q-tips, aka, pecan trees,
he naturally rounded out the inspection with the fruit trees.

Once inside he summoned me to come see the trees.

“Why?” I hesitantly asked.
“Something has happened” he replied a bit alarmed.
“What do you mean something happened?” I countered.
“Because something happened, OK! Something has shredded the trees!”
“Huh?”
“SOMETHING has practically destroyed the trees!!!

and so naturally I dutifully follow my alarmed husband out the door…
now equally as alarmed.

“See this” he most defiantly lifts one of many sheared off tiny limbs
to one of the apple trees.
“And look at your peach trees….!!”

Sure enough….devastation.
But not devastation as in the deer ate off the leaves again.
This looked like someone had more or less taken a weed whacker to the poor trees.

Now we have had problems in the past with male deer who, when coming out of the velvet,
meaning when it’s the season that they start rubbing on anything and everything just
to get the fuzzy summer growth or “velvet” off of their forming antlers…..
but this isn’t the time yet for such as the horns are just now starting to grow.


(detail of a deer’s antler shedding the velvet, courtesy Dannerholz Whitetails)

So something else is to blame for this devastation….but what??

Now we have been told by reliable sources from those deer hunters who have been deep in the woods
behind our property that they have actually seen two black bears.

And it certainly is not uncommon for the Atlanta news to report on bears in suburban Atlanta
neighborhoods having migrated down from their normal habitat in the north Georgia mountains.
Plus it is not uncommon for the bears of middle and south Georgia to migrate northward—
all due in part to the bears natural habitats shrinking coupled by last year’s drought
which has sent hungry bears in search of food.


(youtube image of a mom black bear and her cubs wandering an Atlanta neighborhood)

Ok so I could see a bear deciding to decimate my fruit trees but there is another more
bizarre theory being tossed around out there that’s been floating around
ever since we bought the property and built our house.

Something strange and a little frightening.
Something of legend and lore….

Shortly after we were settled into our house, almost 20 years ago now,
I held a yard sale as we needed to lighten the load of having moved a lifetime
from one house to another.
And by the way, that was our first and last yard sale because my husband was none to keen having
folks park all over his new grass…but I digress….

So as the day was waning and the influx of shoppers was also waning,
a rather odd older woman wandered into our midsts.
I didn’t see her pull up in a car, so I wasn’t real certain where she’d come from.

She walked up to me and asked if I was the one who lived in the house as I politely
replied that yes I did.
She informed me that she lived down the road a ways, down near the creek.
The road past our house turns from neighborhoods and houses to pastures, woods,
cows, chickens, creeks, deers and more desolate than habitable.

This odd little visitor proceeded to tell me a rather interesting tale.

She told me not to be surprised if I should hear, see or even smell something strange
near our house…do not be surprised should I see something large wandering through the
fields or skirting near the edge of the woods.

Well I don’t know if you’ve ever had a yard sale, but you can certainly see, hear and even
smell that which is strange in the way of “shoppers”….just saying.

She told me that on several occasions her dogs would be barking wildly at night-
howling while desperately wanting in the house.
She’d go out to inspect the commotion only to be hit by an overwhelming, powerful
and horrendous odor.
And no, we’re not talking skunk or a dead possum or armadillo—
just an overwhelming stench.

Then one night, once again alerted by the dogs, she raced out of the house…
and this time she actually saw it….or actually a glimpse of it…
Just running back into the woods…a dark giant and very smelly ape like thing…

She then added that her dogs have remained scared to death ever since never wanting
to be out in the yard alone….

hummmmmmm……
Sasquatch…
Bigfoot….is that one word or two?


(youtube clip of a sighting in Georgia…..)

And so now on any late evening, or in the light of day for that matter,
when I’m out in the yard doing those things that I do in the yard…
and I catch a whiff of something odd…or hear something rustling in the overgrown field,
or catch an odd shadow along the edge of the woods,
I wonder…..

So there you have it—
something destroyed my fruit trees….while the question remains..
what….

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

1 John 16:13

To what extent do we love

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
Saint Augustine

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(image of St Kevin as seen in an ancient Irish codex 9th-10th century)

“It is said that once upon a time St. Kevin was kneeling with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross in Glendalough. . . As Kevin knelt and prayed, a blackbird mistook his outstretched hand for some kind of roost and swooped down upon it, laid a clutch of eggs in it and proceeded to nest in it as if it were the branch of a tree. Then, overcome with pity and constrained by his faith to love all creatures great and small, Kevin stayed immobile for hours and days and nights and weeks, holding out his hand until the eggs hatched and the fledging grew wings, true to life if subversive of common sense, at the intersection of natural process and the glimpsed ideal, at one and the same time a signpost and a reminder. Manifesting that order of poetry where we can at last grow up to that which we stored up as we grew.”

This kindly tale of St Kevin and the blackbird, as told by Seamus Heaney, is a tale of which legends must be made as it goes well beyond our modern comprehension of the probable or even the possible.

That a man, caught up in the rapture of deep prayer, could or would be so very still that a bird would light upon his hand in which to lay her eggs…then out of his sweeping concern, compassion and love for all of God’s creatures, particularly for this blackbird and now for her eggs, knew his task was to remain as still as possible until the eggs hatched and the baby birds could fly away on their own.

Poppycock and fairytales….
Far fetched myth and lore…
A sweet little tale for the naive and gullible…

Yet is that simply the single point we are to glean from this sweet little story…
a tale of unbelievable feats carried out all because of a deep abiding love…
or….
…is there more….
as in much much more…?

Perhaps this tale is but a reminder…
A reminder that we have been offered Love…
A great, vast, forgiving and consuming Love….

And the amazing thing about all of this is that we are actually the object of that Love.
We were actually created out of that Love.
So it should come as no surprise that we are to, in turn, exhibit and convey that same Love
to any and all we encounter along our way…
Because within that Love resides a Power so deep and so strong that it is greater than any power known on Earth…
That should we both acknowledge and honor that Love, there would be no limit to what that Love through our faith and actions could accomplish…

Held within each of our lives is a powerful Love…yet sadly we don’t seem fully aware of the absolute strength of what is possible…

Perhaps it is the likes of St Kevin, as well as the countless other believers throughout the ages whose amazing acts of selflessness, as well as superhuman feats, is what is rooted deep within the abiding and almost naive belief that this very Love is capable of truly the unbelievable….

St Hubertus and the deer

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”
― G.K. Chesterton

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(the skull of a whitetail deer found while walking in the woods / Troup Co. Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014

There are those moments in life when the balance between the magical and mystical somehow manages to make time stand still. We find ourselves privy to something so surreal, so otherworldly, that our senses strain to make sense of it all.

As we stumble upon those things of the unimaginable, we marvel over the mingling of death and decay and how lifelessness suddenly mirrors stately beauty.
How did it die? Why did it die? A litany of questions race across our thoughts, yet the only thing that we are certain of is the single fact that the questions will never have answers.

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(skull of a young deer accented by poison ivy / Troup Co, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

During our travels yesterday, deep into the woods, we came across not one, but rather two skulls of whitetail deer. One was young, most likely a spike. The other was a 6 point. From initial observation it appears that each deer mostly likely meet their demise last year.
Odd.

Rare as it is to stumble across a skull of a deer when out walking, it is odder still to stumble upon two.
When deep in a forest, far from any road or human interaction, questions wildly swirl in the recesses of the imagination.
Was it a rattlesnake?
An errant shot by a hunter?
Could the two deaths signal that the dreaded black tongue disease is in the area? A cruel disease that will decimate any herd in a short amount of time.

As I stare at the contrasting starkness of both beauty and death, my thoughts drift to far away place and of a mystical image of a magnificent stag adorned with a brilliant golden cross resting between his horns. The image is of a legendary red stag which appeared to a lone man, adrift in his sorrows. A rich nobleman who had recently lost his young wife during childbirth. Bitter and lost in his sorrow this lone man took to the isolation and vastness of an endless forest. His time spent mindlessly wandering and spitefully hunting.

His heart now hardened, he had no time for God. His time was his own, he offered none of it to the observance of a faith which now seemed lost in the sorrow of a broken heart.
Yet God had plans for this lone man with a broken heart. He was destined to hunt more than mere animals as he was set to hunt and capture, for the betterment of the faith, the hearts and souls of men.

The story is of St Hubert or Hubertus of Liège. He, along with St Eustace, are each considered the patron saints of hunters.

St. Hubert

St Hubert or Saint Hubertus (born c. 656 to 658, probably in Toulouse; died 30 May, 727 or 728 in Tervuren near Brussels, Belgium), called the “Apostle of the Ardennes” was the first Bishop of Liège. Hubertus is another patron saint of hunters, but also of mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers, and used to be invoked to cure rabies. Saint Hubert was widely venerated in the Middle Ages. The iconography of his legend is associated with the legend of St Eustace.

As a youth, Hubert was sent to the Neustrian court of Theuderic III at Paris, where his charm and agreeable address led to his investment with the dignity of “count of the palace”. Like all nobles of the time, Hubert loved the pleasures of “the chase” i.e. hunting.

Meanwhile, the tyrannical conduct of Ebroin, mayor of the Neustrian palace, caused a general emigration of the nobles and others to the court of Austrasia at Metz. Hubert soon followed them and was warmly welcomed by Pippin of Heristal, mayor of the palace, who created him almost immediately grand-master of the household. About this time (682) Hubert married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven, a great and suitable match. Their son Floribert would later become bishop of Liège.

Unfortunately, his wife died giving birth to their son, and Hubert retreated from the court, withdrew into the forested Ardennes, and gave himself up entirely to hunting. But a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the story narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”.
Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you”.

Hubert set out immediately for Maastricht, for there Lambert was bishop. Saint Lambert received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert now renounced all his very considerable honours, and gave up his birthright to Aquitaine to his younger brother Odo, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he studied for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert’s chief associates in the administration of his diocese.

By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome in 708, but during his absence, Lambert was assassinated by the followers of Pippin. According to the hagiographies of Hubert, this act was simultaneously revealed to the Pope in a vision, together with an injunction to appoint Hubert Bishop of Maastricht.

He distributed his episcopal revenues among the poor, was diligent in fasting and prayer, and became famous for his eloquence in the pulpit. In 720, in obedience to a vision, Hubert translated St. Lambert’s remains from Maastrict to Liège with great pomp and ceremonial, several neighbouring bishops assisting. A basilica for the relics was built upon the site of St Lambert’s martyrdom, and was made a cathedral the following year, the see being removed from Maastricht to Liège, then only a small village. This laid the foundation of the future greatness of Liège, of which Saint Lambert is honoured as patron, and Saint Hubert as founder and first bishop. Hubert actively evangelised among the pagans in the extensive Ardennes forests and in Brabant.

Hubert died peacefully in Fura, Brabant, 30 May, 727 or 728. He was first buried in the collegiate church of St. Peter, Liège, but his bones were exhumed and translated to the Benedictine Abbey of Amdain (“Andagium”, in French “Andage”, the present-day Saint-Hubert, Belgium) in the Ardennes in 825. The abbey became a focus for pilgrimages, until the coffin disappeared during the Reformation.

Saint Hubert was widely venerated in the Middle Ages and several military orders were named after him: the Bavarian, the Bohemian and that of the Archbishop Prince-Elector of Cologne.

His Feast Day is 3 November.
(excerpt taken from romanchrisendomblogspot.com)

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(the pin of St Hubert which is to be worn on the day of the hunt, reminding those who hunt to offer thanks to a gracious Heavenly Father who provides for all of our needs. . .)

Signs

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
― David Eddings

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.”
George Bernard Shaw

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(the signs of things to come in this black oak tree, a myriad of forming acorns / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting out on the back deck yesterday evening, something up in the nearby oak tree caught my eye.
“What in the world?!” I hear myself asking out loud to the cat.
Ok, so my asking the cat ‘what’s up in the tree’ is for an entirely different sort of post–let’s just stick to the current question at hand—and that happens to be what’s up in the oak tree.

Thinking I know the answer to my own question, I dash inside searching for the camera—remember, it’s never where one needs it, when one wants it.
Finally locating and immediately grabbing said camera, I zoom back out to the deck in order to zoom in on the tops of the tree.

Yep, I knew it—the tree is loaded with acorns.

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“And that means what?” you’re wondering. . .
It’s a sign silly.
“A sign?”
Yes, as in a sign, a prognostication, perhaps even a harbinger.
“A harbinwho?
Harbinger—as in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
Of course I suppose it doesn’t have to be all that dark and sinister—it can be a heralder or announcement of something maybe positive to come—

“Such as?”

A hard winter or not a hard winter.

“Hummmm. . . ”

I have noticed a couple of wooly bears.
“Wooly who’s?”
Wooly bear caterpillars–those prickly black and reddish caterpillars which make their presence known this time of year.
They’re harbingers too you know.
As in harbingers of a bad winter.

However I suppose it is only the middle of July. . . Who wants to think about let alone chatter about harbingers and winter when it seems most of us are still trying to forget this past winter ?!
And anyway, in case anyone was paying attention, St Swithin’s day was Tuesday, July 15th.
As in:

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

All of which means that it was hot and sunny here on Tuesday. According to St Swithin— it’s going to be hot and dry for the next 40 days!
Do you have any idea what that’s going to mean for my plants and my water bill?!?!?

As a former girl scout, I do think it is always best to be prepared. . .
One certainly never knows when the weather is going to change.
Keeping watch for the harbingers and signs of impending change is most important. . .

And now if you will please excuse me—I need to go out and check on those bulls across the street. . .if they’re laying down, you can count on that needed rain!! St Swithin or not!

The Kehlsteinhaus

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Just inside the southern German border, a mere stones throw from Austria, lays the village of Oberzalberg. This is a gorgeous area of the German/ Austrian Alps. On a clear day one can indeed see that the hills are alive with the sound of music—or rather the constant rustle of wind as a crisp deep Prussian blue sky dotted with giant balls of white popcorn clouds makes one feel as if they must be just below Heaven’s gate (perhaps my German friends may not like the color description but this is from an art teacher who loves the color Prussian blue).

Perched high in the mountains, above this quaint village, exists the remnants of a once glamorous and yet ominous mountain home. The Kehlsteinhaus, or Teahouse, was the 50th birthday gift, for the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler. It was presented to him from one of the top leaders of the Nazi Party, Martin Bormann.

It is often in the old black and white photographs and film footage that we see Hitler, along with his companion and future wife, Eva Braun, walking along the outside deck, overlooking the picturesque view of endless mountains, quaint Alpine villages along with a view of the city of Salzburg in the far distance. It is here that the Fürer would entertain the prominent dignitaries of the day.

Back in October, when I was fortunate to travel on the great retirement celebration trip, we were to spend 3 wonderful days in Salzburg before traveling on to Vienna. When planning the trip I discovered that I could arrange a couple of side trips, using our stay in Salzburg as our base of operations. As a huge history buff, I really wanted to take the 4.5-hour tour to the Eagle’s Nest, or Kehlsteinhaus.

I was both excited as well as nervous about our trip and tour to the Eagle’s Nest. This was a tremendous piece of history, notorious history—the history that I have spent a lifetime reading about and learning. Things and places like the Kehlsteinhaus seem almost bigger than life, especially because of who use to be a the “owner.” Hitler is like the elephant in the room in this area—not seen or spoken of, but whose presence remains eerily heavy in the air.


The weather was not cooperating on our chosen day of travel, as it was drizzling and chilly. We took a tour bus for about an hour or so drive from Salzburg into Germany. The drive was very pretty, especially as we began to climb up into the mountains. The higher we ascended on the journey, the fog and clouds grew heavy with visibility fading fast, as a light drizzle spit on and off.

Eventually the bus made its way to the top to the mountain where we parked in a large paved area. We disembarked only to wait before next boarding a smaller shuttle for the remainder of the journey upward. As we had a few minutes before loading on to the next shuttle, we decided to visit the small souvenir shop located at the bus parking lot. The shop was outfitted with all sorts of alpine wear and alpine souvenirs, along with a couple of books about the building of the road leading up to the “retreat” but very little information in the way of the original owner and of his time on the mountain—which made me begin to wonder.

As I was now cold from the blustery wind and drizzle, accompanied by a dip in the temperature the higher we climbed, I found myself buying some cute pairs of socks and a beautiful alpine woolen sweater. 
We eventually boarded the smaller shuttle which took us the remainder of the way up the mountain to, yet, another parking area. Disembarking the shuttle, we were led to the entrance of a long stone tunnel that bore its way 400 feet in to the mountain.

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It was dimly lit, damp and I swear I could almost hear the boots of soldiers’ goose-stepping through the same tunnel almost 70 years prior. The tunnel is just as it was. It leads all visitors to
a massive elevator that is fitted in brightly polished brass and green leather seats with mirrors covering the walls. It is said that Hitler was as vain as he was paranoid—the mirrored walls allowed him a full visual access to those with him when in the elevator. The elevator holds almost 40 people. It ascended 400 feet to the top of the mountain.

When the doors opened, we found ourselves in small unassuming “foyer” or hallway. We were told we had about an hour before having to reload the shuttle. We were confused—where was the museum, the artifacts, the history? What we found was, however, a restaurant. That was it, a restaurant. I was dumbfounded! 
The Eagle’s Nest, the Kehlsteinhaus, the Third Reich Teahouse, is now just a tourist trap of a restaurant. We glumly found a table and ordered an apple strudel and hot chocolate, as there wasn’t much to look at or do. Granted had the weather cooperated, the view from outside would have certainly occupied our time.

There was the massive marble fireplace still intact in the larger room that had once been the main conference room during Hitler’s occupation of the “retreat.” The marble fireplace had been a gift from Mussolini. Italian marble I surmised. There were a few plaques on the wall showcasing the massive building effort of the road leading up the mountain. From reading the plaques,although in German, I understood it took just one year to build. But, still, the one missing figure, which was truly the elephant in the room, was nowhere to be seen.

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We ventured outside and the fog was so thick we could barely see in front of our own faces. There was outdoor seating which would have been nice on a warmer clear day and one could make the short hike up the summit of the mountain to see the cross that has since been erected. Such beautiful irony, that a cross is now gracing the summit of this one time bastion of an evil ideology. I took the small climb up to the summit. I peered out through the fog into nothingness. I knew that had the day been clear, what I would be seeing would have certainly taken my breath—but the endless fog seemed to match my mood, as well as of the heavy history that I felt to be present– even if any and all images of such had long been removed.

Along the path, as I slowly made my way back down from the summit to the main building, I looked down to what I knew was the unmistakable edelweiss flower. The edelweiss is a small white flower, which grows in very high alpine altitudes. There are many legends and lore which surround this demure small flower—the one I like best I found on a site that addresses all sorts of folk legends:

In the country of eternal snows, lived a white lady: the Queen of Snows. She was surrounded by many small wights, who were in charge of her protection. Armed with spears of crystal, they protected their queen from the intrusion of stranger folk and those who might do her harm.
When a hunter or an imprudent mountaineer approached the beautiful lady, she was often pleased by the visit, and she would encourage him with her smiles and her eyes to join her. Fascinated by the gentle eyes of the beautiful lady, the mountaineer forgets the danger and continues to climb…and he climbs higher and higher with the hope of seeing more closely this beautiful face.
Confronted by this apparent danger, the wights take to their spears and push back the suitor until he falls into a precipice.
The white lady at the sight of that horrible spectacle began to cry; the tears then ran along the glacier and flowed to the pastures, and when arriving near the rocks, they changed into Edelweiss.

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During our trip, while visiting Switzerland, we were also told this story of the edelweiss–a young suitor, in order to show the girl of his dreams his true feelings, would have to climb very high up into the alps, risking his own safety, in order to find an edelweiss. He was to pick the elusive flower, bing it back down from the mountains and present his “love” with the flower, a true symbol of his affection.

I was sorry to have missed the stunning view, as I have heard it is breathtaking, but somehow the fog and drizzle seemed almost appropriate for where we were. 
After the war there was debate as to whether or not they should blow the “retreat” off the mountain. But the officials of the time decided to keep it, as it was such a stunning setting. And I suppose they didn’t know how to treat the place—not to make it a shrine to a dark and sinister individual but opted for the Disney approach, when in doubt, make it a tourist attraction—hawk souvenirs, food and a view. I, for one however, was disappointed. I wanted some history–and history was not to be found.

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I asked our guide if there wasn’t some sort of museum near, perhaps down in the village, which provided a more historical slant to the Kehlsteinhaus and the surrounding area. He was very vague and told me that there wasn’t much time. Again, I had a very odd feeling. We had come all of this way for what I had hoped to be a mini history lesson but instead we simply had a nice piece of strudel and hot chocolate.

Later, once we were back home, I was talking with a friend of mine from Switzerland who now makes his home in Florida. He had recently been home to Switzerland, visiting relatives, and decided to create a short holiday by driving to Austria and Germany for a few days. He too decided to visit the Kehlsteinhaus. As I retold him of our misadventure and of my disappointment with the tour and of our trip to the Eagle’s Nest, he shared a similar experience.

As he and his wife were driving, they stopped in the small village of Oberzalberg to stay for the evening. Asking at the hotel for directions as how to best visit the Kehlsteinhaus, he was met with a bit of confusion. The hotel operator told him that they did not know of what he was asking. It was as if they had never heard of the Kehlsteinhaus. How could that be he wondered. He told me that he was indeed conversing in German so there was nothing to be lost in translation.

My friend later, sitting on the balcony of his hotel room, looked up and on top of the opposite mountain, there he saw what he knew had to the Eagle’s Nest. The next day he and his wife figured out how to drive their way to the mountain retreat, purchasing tickets, leaving their car in the lower parking lot and taking the same shuttle for the journey up the mountain. And they too were met with the same sense of disappointment that they were simply visiting a restaurant. However, the weather cooperated for them, and they were at least rewarded with spectacular views.

All I can think is that it is difficult for most Germans, as well as Austrians, to sort out this part of their past. As I can only imagine it must be—how can one allow oneself to lay claim to something that was so terribly dark and tragic? How can one say that what happened 70 years ago is a part of one’s country’s history and not feel some inextricable sense of guilt or cling to some sort of vehement denial? It is the paradox of being, I suppose, German as well as Austrian. Painful to confront something so unimaginable.

And perhaps denial or ignoring is part of all of that—and perhaps that is how one generation may deal with it, the younger generations may feel so far removed that those things are not a part of or have no bearing on the past that they know.

One day I hope that I will have the opportunity of returning to the area as I would like to explore the lovely Alpine villages and perhaps catching a sunny day for some spectacular views while enjoying yet another piece of strudel.