Michaela Merz

A sunday in November

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When I was a child, at the weekend I could sleep until midday. But from a certain age that no longer worked. However late I go to bed, I always get up at about the same time. By half past seven in the morning I’m already wide awake. For night-birds that must sound terrible; but I’m an early bird and enjoy the absolutes peace in the morning. No telephone calls, no traffic, no stress. I wake up between five and six in the morning, every day, without an alarm. On Sunday morning everyone is still asleep. Then I go swimming, because the indoor pool in Zürich opens at six. I love swimming a few lengths when the first light and sunbeams break through the water and conjure up wonderful pictures. It is a wonderful, meditative feeling, that feels like an inner cleansing. Only, unfortunately, on this Sunday I was far too enthusiastic or had too much energy. At any rate, when pushing off the wall, I had knocked my big toe. Au, that hurt! Now it is black and blue and I can only hope that a bone is not broken. On Saturday morning also, another swimmer had hit me on the hand so hard with his hard swimming aids he was wearing on his hands that today I can still feel it and also have a blue patch from it. And swimming is supposed to a non-dangerous, injury free sport. Thank God I don’t play rugby.
After the swim, despite the painful toe, I felt light and free. I hurried home, but that was hardly necessary. Shortly before eight my youngest was still asleep. I had to wake him up, but with a delicious smelling breakfast that worked easily. Because at nine we wanted to be at the ice-rink. Right on opening time we were there. My toe was protesting, because to force my left foot into my narrow ice-skates, which I had received on my 18th birthday, is even in normal circumstances a demanding exercise. With a painful toe it was a real challenge! But I didn’t want to spoil my youngest’s pleasure. One more try and it’s in! The ice-rink fills up quickly at this time of day but it is definitely not so over-crowded as on Sunday afternoon. Those who come in the morning are the hard core – little girls practice pirouettes, boys who were trying to hit the goal just for fun, old men, who glide elegantly over the ice. My youngest and I are not elegant. I taught myself how to ice-skate and have played with colleagues for hours on the frozen stream. I have no technique, but I’m fast. I watched the little girl, as she received her training and I felt the urge also to learn something. Skating backwards. I watched her and tried to copy it. It didn’t really work. No matter, the important thing is to enjoy oneself. And suddenly he was standing next to me. A gentleman, perhaps a little younger than my father. He was very elegant, I had already noticed him earlier. He said something to me, but it was in French. His well- intentioned advice failed for my lacking language skills. And so my youngest and I received a one-hour free lesson from Eric. Eric is retired and comes from Lausanne. He has time and so he travels by train with his general season ticket and visits artificial ice-rinks throughout Switzerland. He has more than 65 years’ experience of ice-skating. We noticed that and he was also remarkably patient enough to demonstrate it again and again and for the hundredth time. It was great fun with Eric. Simply great and that in the sunshine. We got red cheeks, laughed a lot and now and again landed on our bottoms. Reluctantly we parted from Eric.

We had tickets for the Tonhalle for Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens. That was one of a series of family concerts, at which small children make their first contact with classical music. My youngest is no longer a small child but we still enjoy going. That children cannot sit still and now and again a small child yells, is a fact of life and doesn’t really disturb me. But today in front of us sat two mothers and their daughters, about 10 years old. It was terrible. Both mothers chatted quietly with one another incessantly and regardless of what was happening on stage. Even if one couldn’t hear the content of the conversation, it was simply disturbing. And their daughters were even worse. They couldn’t sit still and listen for a single minute. They behaved like four-year olds, but that is an unfair insult, because next to us sat a very small boy, who was about four years old and watched with great concentration throughout the performance. What does one do in such a situation? I saw how the mother of the young boy next to us had admonished the girl in front of her. But that didn’t help much and her mother didn’t even react. How could she, when she was chattering herself? But why go to a classical music concert at all, when she was clearly not interested at all and she was also not prepared to listen to the music even for five minutes? I solved the problem, probably like a coward. We simply changed places quietly. I‘m not going to have the experience spoiled.

We spent the afternoon in a glass atelier. Looked at beautiful things, listened and watched how they come into being. A festival for the eyes.

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