Little House on the Heide
That Sunday Feeling

The sun is shining when we wake up so I begin packing the cooler. M is exhausted from an overly strenuous morning run and asks me to drive. By the time we hit the autobahn he is feeling nauseous. Once we get to the house he drags the inflatable mattress out onto the lawn, collapsing between the broken barn and the moldy bungalow. He seems to be suffering from food poisoning. As he shivers under a sleeping bag, regretting a dubious bowl of chili at last night’s party, the kids wander around, in search of last summer’s exuberance. The walnut tree appears to be dying.

Back in November I had hoped that by the time spring rolled around we would be rolling with it, moving forward, renovating the house, planting trees. Instead it seems as if we are sinking, entrenched as we are on either front of what is beginning to feel less like a realistic goal and more like an endless war: home and garden.

In fact, we are right back where we were a year ago: imagining a transformation, making plans. As soon as we get soil delivered, we can start planting. As soon as we get planning permission, we can start building. Is this patience or delusion?

All I know is that some parameters have shifted: Herr G has stopped returning my calls. The truckload of soil he promised did not materialize over the winter. If I want the privacy of a wall of lilac bushes, I’ll have to procure plants and soil somewhere and dig that thirty meter ditch myself. Oh, and the house? We’ve decided to tear it down and start from scratch. That is, once M is conscious again.

It feels like we’re on our own now. Frau Left has stopped saying hello since our little run-in last fall. And there’s no sign of the Rights, other than their barking dog and marauding robot lawn mower. Also, their above ground pool has disappeared. But instead of relief, its absence inspires a nebulous dread. What will take its place?

Still, the main question now is how to spend the afternoon. While O tries in vain to fly a kite, R reads a book, bundled up in scarves next to the wood burning oven in the bungalow. I stare at the tools in the shed, trying to identify the one that will release me from this limbo, endow me with some kind of agency. I prune; therefore I am!

Soon O is at my side, though. He needs a saw. Why can’t he build a tree house? No, he does not want to go for a walk or play a game. I convince him to bike into town for a soft-serve ice cream. It’s cloudy and cold now but what else is there to do? We are back to taking this place as it is because we are in no position to make demands.

When O and I return, R has finished her book and is staring at her phone. We all have that Sunday feeling, except for M, who has commenced vomiting. But with school tomorrow, staying the night is not an option, so we return the food to the cooler and load up the car again. The drive back to Berlin is punctuated by an impromptu stop in a shady forest, where we watch M retch by the side of the road.