An asparagus field in the country without colour
Hundreds of colourful balloons lifted off all at once and flew into a clear blue sky, it must have been some time in spring. I recall that I tried to follow the one balloon which had a message from my brother attached to it, but once he had let go of the string it had sailed off and become indistinguishable from all the others up there.
The idea was similar to a message in a bottle. The balloon had a brief note with his details on it attached to a string and it asked the finder to send my brother a letter or postcard. I’d love to know how many children actually got a message back. My brother and I certainly had forgotten all about it when months later he did actually receive a letter from a young boy his age.
We were all thrilled. Not only had someone taken the time to write he also told a marvelous story of how he had come into the possession of my brother’s note.
Imagine an older lady bent down over a field of asparagus in late spring. This was the time in the year when asparagus started growing and required a lot of maintenance. Without machinery it was backbreaking work and slow the old lady was making her way down the long rows.
When she looked up from her work she saw a brightly coloured balloon that had landed only a few metres away from her. It must have lost a bit of its helium content as the string and piece of paper attached to it were weighing it down. The lady moved towards the balloon to take a closer look when a breeze was blowing back life into the coloured messenger almost lifting it off again. Quickly the lady captured it by the string before it got blown away further.
She read the note and was thrilled to realise her grandson was almost the same age as the composer of the message. He must have been thrilled when his grandma brought him her find and enthusiastic to sit down and write a letter.
I don’t remember the letter at all, but what I do remember is my mother explaining where the boy lived, which was in the GDR – the message had travelled hundreds of kilometres across the border before landing on the asparagus field.
Like many people in West Germany we knew hardly anything from the neighbouring country and to have a personal contact with someone was fascinating – all I could picture was a brightly coloured balloon in the country without colour.
I do recall my mum helping my brother packing a parcel to send to his new pen-friend. It contained coffee, biscuits and a few other items, but I didn’t understand why the boy and his family would have need for such everyday items.