In that sweet space, those first inches warmed by the sun’s stare, I float.
Back flat against the cooler depths and the fish that dart below. Head amid my own flourish of sunlight, I close my eyes and listen.
Much like my afternoon at Starnberger See, my ears cling to the flutter of birds and their leaves, catching the music. Much like that afternoon, I feel at peace in the nature that overwhelms industrial growth.
Yet, in contrast to the serene solitude of Starberger, Eibsee is populated by a metropolis of visitors. The young and the old stretch their arms in large arcs propelling their paddle boards, cycle their legs in the dual seats of paddle boats, or simply rest their sun-soaked bodies on the rocks.
In my own drifting rest, I am joined by a duck. Traveling alone like me, she makes no sound as she splits waves with her soft and straight brown feathers.
Her orange-ringed beak smiles at me, an exchange likely a symptom of my solo travel. All the same, I witness a sense of peace between the lake’s dwellers and its inhabitants. A passing recognition of life and a contentment in this coexistence.
Climbing the white-spotted sky is the Zugspitze, claiming the title of the tallest mountain in Germany. At its top, you can see Austria’s alps sitting opposite the Eibsee.
My mind cues Roger Moore, The Spy Who Loved Me, carrying Bond’s ski poles in wild crescents and planting them unconvincingly in the sharp and snowy decline. His Hollywood-blown hair cut with faint blue in front of the Apls’ chilled white.
The real scene was filmed in the Swiss Alps, mere miles from Zugspitze’s peak.
Even in the Summer, Zugspitze is sparkled in snow for those who take the cable-car ride to its top. Below the dusted snow, the rest of us bathe in Eibsee’s warmed waters. Rocks make up the shore that lines Eibsee’s crystal refreshment, the worthy payout for its long journey.
In Munich, I rose at a respectable 8:15, meeting my friends in the kitchen for a coffee before we departed. Five people in a small station wagon took to the autobahn, dropping a few at their stops along the way.
I passed the time in the fields we swept through. On either side, sprawling meadows were sprinkled with clusters of black forest trees, guarded by the Alps’ shifting shade.
An hour took us to Garmisch, the town that greets Eibsee and the mountains that surround its valley. Its streets are home to quaint Bavarian living interrupted by two American military bases.
Hosting diplomats and foreign ambassadors, Garmisch’s charm comes in its traditional architecture and friendly culture. It is clear the small town offers some of the best of the Bavarian countryside.
As we reached the entrance to Eibsee, an over-crowded parking lot turned the remaining 15 minutes of our drive into a 50-minute hike. I relished the opportunity to take off into the solitude offered by the tree-lined path through the forest.
The grass green and tickling my shins gave way to lincoln-log houses and widely enclosed pasture spaces for cattle. This seemingly endless view met my feet aside the trickling river that runs through the forest’s clusters of trees.
The abundance captivated my eyes but could not absorb the sweat crawling down the back of my neck. The untamed magnificence powerless to take the slight incline’s burning from my thighs or stop the sun from burning its blushing presence upon my shoulders.
I blessed the trees who gifted me slivers of shade with their narrow stocks.
Swatting bugs from my calves and grazing my forearm across my brow, the just over two-mile hike passed. The forest’s trees opened their congregation to the face of Zugspitze and a wink of the Eibsee. I made it.
I could not wait any longer; taking the straight path, my legs did the thinking.
Declining the final steps between my humid body and the much-deserved dive into the coolness promised by the glittering blue. Cascading pebbles followed me down the steep ledge as I used roots and rocks to make my way down the fifteen-foot drop to the shore.
My striped and soaked shirt soon found rest next to my denim shorts tossed on the edge of a larger stone as my body embraced the long-awaited depths.
Hungry and tired, I took my body out of the water to lay my towel across the smoothest patch of rocks I could find. My legs collapsed as I silently reached for yesterday’s schnitzel and kasespatzle, and I quieted my aching stomach.
Despite their desired flatness, the sharp curves beneath me made their own peaked mountain range. This lake-side rest lacking the same softness as that of its water, Eibsee beckoned.
Here I find myself. Hovering in the brief space that collects the sun. Blissful among the rest of nature.
The Cycle of Your Water
The crisp kiss of that familiar.
That crystal sameness,
embracing your limbs as you fall,
collecting the current of your hair as you curl.
This lapping at your feet is only the hearth of home
when you are consumed,
when drowned in its depths, your
eyes closed and trusting the surface’s clarity extends
through its dark waters.
But you have to blink,
to open your swollen eyes.
This infinite moment proves momentary,
severed from your skin
as you drip the way
Left shivering and cold,
you look back.
Glance the mixed truth in its waves,
glare at your rippling reflection.
Only the perfect temperature
when surrounded, its
playful splashes touch you,
making falling moments cling to flesh.
You want to give in.
To crawl back into that weightless place.
But as you drip dry,
goosebumps replace its droplets
take their own slow moments to
disappear into your skin as
your toes curl
gripping the earth,
letting its harsh edges take you
to a new shore.