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What a Day and What a Night!

by Hermann Tauscher

(Kodai Class of 1955, classmate of Jo's)

I realize that my memories are so vague and blurry concerning details, which now seem to me to be of great importance. What was the name of the place we made this hike to? And who is we? And does any one have the answer to the "when?" Correct me, if you may, since most of you seem to have much more distinct and precise memories concerning these essential details.

It must have been quite a large group of us - 15 to 20 perhaps, I suppose members of class of '55 together with several of the class below us, and strangely enough a mixed-gender group, rare enough for us boys who prided ourselves of special toughness concerning adventurous hikes.

So everything was different. The hike was well organized; we didn't miss any trails or get lost or have any dangerous encounters with wild animals or any accidents or physical breakdowns due to fatigue. It didn't even rain and the temperature was just right. So it was more of a long walk, with groupings and regroupings of the participants, almost effortless walking leisurely, relaxed, with a lot of laughter, gossiping and discussing. But it was already rapidly dimming when we finally reached our goal: a hut. This was too small to accommodate us all; so the girls disappeared into the hut, while we boys started gathering wood, pinecones or whatever suitable material for our campfire.

It had already become dark when we finally all found our places in a circle around the fireplace and began roasting meat stuck onto branches we had broken off from the mimosa trees. There we were sitting 20 miles from our school and with no humans in the vicinity, separated from civilization, hearing just our own voices or the cries of birds or other animals of the forest surrounding us. But the hours passed by so quickly in an atmosphere I might best describe as light, peaceful, in perfect harmony one with another and with the environment surrounding us; timeless, just as if we had always belonged to one another and never had any intention of going apart.

The full moon stood in the zenith of the cloudless sky as gradually fatigue overwhelmed the contentment and gaiety, letting the voices get quieter and the girls steal out of the circle to find their night's rest in the hut. But we boys stood around there suddenly realizing that we hadn't cared about preparing our night's shelter. And despite the extremely bright and clear light of the full moon, we were too tired and absolutely incapable of anything like work.

Underneath those grand pine trees there was a bed, a bed of pansy flowers, so dense, so thick, so high, no mattress could have concurred. Here we just let ourselves fall down, one after the other, leaving enough room for each one of us to be alone with his thoughts and feelings. No worries concerning snakes or other potentially dangerous beasts came up.

Lying on my back and looking up into those silvery-blue branches high above me swaying to and fro with the gentle wind and hearing the sighing of the branches and twigs interrupted by some strange night birds call, it seemed as if I had reached a point of bliss, of closeness to all others in our group, of closeness to nature and to the eternal. What a day and what a night!