Multi-lingual tower

Sometimes the view of a tower is more illuminating than the view on it, from up high.

Of course this is one tower I will never climb.

The books will have you believe Belgium is split in two:

The Dutch speaking northern half, called Flanders, and the French speaking southern half called Wallonia, the flag of which is yellow with a red rooster on it.

(I’m not sure what the flag from Flanders looks like.)

But from the hill where we are staying I can see a tower on top of the next ridge.

That’s Aachen, Germany.

Seventy thousand of Belgium’s 10 million residents speak German as their native tongue.

That’s less than 1 percent of the population.

Most of that 1 percent, if they climb to the top of the nearest hill, can probably see that tower.

Does that mean that German is sneaking across the border?

Actually, it’s just the opposite (if in fact French and German are opposites – and I think they are).

German was the exclusive language in this part of Belgium two generations ago. Now it’s shared with French as a close second. Third would be Dutch … English a distant fourth. In nearby Eupen, perhaps the unofficial capitol of German-speaking Belgium, parents can choose schools by what language they want their children to learn … although eventually they learn the first two fluently … and the third and fourth to varying degrees.

The sunsets here are beautiful, but what’s even more striking is the slowness in which they unravel into the never ending twilight.

(The sun doesn’t so much “set” here as it slowly spreads across the horizon, as if there were a giant pan on the other side of the hills catching it.)

My eyes are drawn to that mysterious tower:

It stands stalwart against that low glow of upwelling light,
Then eventually fades from view, into black.

“Guten Nacht, Bon Soir, Weltrusten …Good night.”

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