The Taos Ski Valley was as lovely today as it was a month ago when I visited for VisCom 25. The only ugliness is the sight of the red tape closing off access to Carson National Forest because of fire threats.
It was like coming home to return to Snakedance. I noticed the propane truck in front of the building on my way in, but it didn't register with me its implication. No propane to cook for the Früschoppen, the wonderful brunch hosted each year by the German Summer School to thank their sponsors and supporters. It's also the only time the students and faculty speak English. Otherwise, it's "Nur Deutsch!"
I arrived at 10:55 a.m. The Früschoppen was to start at 11. When it didn't start immediately on time I was surprised. The incredibly punctual Germans are late? Then I heard about the kitchen having problems because of propane and it made sense. Everyone milled about, checking out the clouds overhead, wondering if they were going to make a command performance at the outside brunch.
I visited with Paul, who is up at the Ski Valley for the entire Summer School. His wife is German and he studied it in the 80's, but has forgotten a lot.
I checked in with the summer school organizers, Susanne Baackmann, UNM associate professor of German, and Jeffrey High, California State Long Beach. The program runs for four weeks and is now in its 36th year.
They indicated that they have 42 students enrolled this summer, a strong showing. Baackmann said they have the occasional student meltdown, someone feeling overwhelmed and wanting to go home, but she and High manage to calm the nerves of the students and they haven't had anyone retreat.
Brunch finally was served and it was well worth the wait. A lovely berry compote topped with yogurt was followed by a kind of scrambled eggs Benedict served with avocados and tomatoes (not quite guacamole – I detected no chile or jalapeños), atop an English muffin. It was served with pan fried potatoes with peppers. Quite delicious.
Susanne and Jeff thanked each other as well as the Max Kade Foundation, the Goethe Institute, Taos Ski Valley Mayor Neil King, the founders of the German Summer School George Peters and Peter Pabisch, as well as Elizabeth Brownell, of Thunderbird Lodge. They were home to the German Summer School for 30 years. Susanne even thanked me. Crazy.
I sat next to Kayla, an instructor from Albuquerque, and across from Robert, a student from Cal State Long Beach. They talked about a movie they'd watched called The Wave, a German film inspired by the social experiment The Third Wave, about how the masses can be manipulated. Must see the movie…once my German is kicked up. Maybe there are subtitles?
Robert and I had a nice discussion about language, how the construction of it gives insight into the native speakers of it. Interestingly, he works at a German meat market in California. His ability to speak German got him the job, but it's only the beginning. He's been doing archival translations of German newspaper articles on the Stasi, the German Secret Police. He plans to go to Germany and/or Austria next year. This trip was his first out of California alone. He's ready to tackle Das Welt. (the world)
I enjoyed hearing German spoken around me. It resurrected many words for me. I followed conversation, but couldn't speak if spoken to. I've been so immersed in Spanish that my brain identifies "other" language as Spanish. It'll be a struggle to gain those skills again.
Paul encouraged me to attend Kayla's class. It's a beginner class, so I think I will be okay. I'll be there on Tuesday morning at 8:15…acht und funfzein Uhr.