We did not find it.
We tried but there wasn’t enough time for a real search. The only way we would have been able to find it is if we got incredibly lucky.
We did not get incredibly lucky.
We were looking for a small village where a picture that has been in my family for some 60 years was painted.
The painting was the one constant in every house I lived in when I was a kid.
My dad was in the military which meant we moved a lot and lived in a number of different houses, but the painting was the one thing that made each of those houses a home. In every house we lived in from Germany, to Colorado, to Iowa, to Kansas, to Okinawa and back to Kansas again my mom always made sure the painting hung in our living room.
My wife and I have the painting now. It’s has been reframed and is hanging in our house right now.
In the living room where it belongs.
My parents bought the painting when we were living in Germany. The painting depicts a bend in the road in a small German village. In the foreground there is what appears to be a church. Next to the church are several trees and to the right of the trees is a building that appears to have an opening for foot traffic to pass through.
There is a low stone fence in front of the church. On the road in front of the church there is what looks to be a small white duck and a cart being pulled by two oxen.
One day, when we were on one of the many short day trips my parents liked to take us on when we lived in Germany, my older brother Pat, my older sister Mary, and I were walking along a bend in the road of a small village when we stopped and realized where we were.
“It’s the painting,” we all shouted at about the same time.
And it was. It was as if we somehow managed to walk into the painting itself.
It’s a neat story and one that I remember very well. The only thing neater about the story would be if either of us could remember the name of that small village or where it was. But, sadly, we can’t.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit our 21-year-old daughter Emma and help her pack for her trip back home.
As a Father’s Day gift my wife and Emma surprised me with news that our trip would include a quick stop in Germany. The idea, my wife said, was to give me a chance to visit Kitzingen the small town where my family lived while we were in Germany. My wife thought we could also spend some time looking for the village where the painting had been painted.
I had my doubts about finding the village in the painting. After all, it had been 60 years. I was pretty sure things had changed in that village.
So, after spending four days in Copenhagen my wife, Emma and I took an early Saturday morning flight to Frankfurt, Germany. From there we took a train to Wurzburg, a relatively large city about 10 miles from Kitzingen.
We knew that the agency where we planned to rent a car to drive to Kitzingen would be closed by the time we got off the train so the plan was to spend the afternoon exploring Wurzburg and then head to Kitzingen the next morning.
We’ve had worse plans.
Wurzburg was only great. It’s a neat mixture of an old and a modern German town. Oh, and the food, the beer and the people were fantastic.
We spent part of the evening with several hundred other people on a major pedestrian bridge in the middle of town sipping German wine and watching the sunset.
I’ve had worse evenings.
We showed a picture of the painting to a few people in Wurzburg in hopes they might know the name of the village in the painting.
The next morning we drove to Kitzingen, parked the car and wandered around the town. We showed the picture of the painting to a few people we met but, again, no one was able to help us identify the village and there wasn’t time for a blind search so, after a few pleasant hours in Kitzingen we drove back to Wurzburg and took the train back to the airport.
So, no, we didn’t find the village in the painting. But you know what? Sometimes life isn’t about the finding. Sometimes it’s about the searching.
Oh, and the beer.