The start of the Tale Trail comes into view. From there, a narrow path leads through a mini-canyon and the forest to the castle rock. Rita and I spent almost every free minute in the ruins of Rifenstein Castle on the way from Reigoldswil to Titterten when we were children.
Many a tale exists about the old structure that today has more resemblance to a rotten tooth than a stately castle from a certain angle. Riches are buried there, they say. In certain nights, a golden drawbar will protrude from the rocks. He who succeeds to pull the cart out by it may keep the treasure. Rich food for children's fantasies.
I enjoy the burbling creek, how the sun shines through the canopy, how my feet are rustling through last year's dead leaves, even the way my heartbeat and breathing are quickening because of the exertion. The smell of wild garlic stings my nose. How many pounds of the stuff must I have gathered and carried home for salads? Mother used to chop it finely and pickle it in olive oil. They call it wild garlic pesto nowadays – for us it was simply spring oil.
In the first courtyard, I put my backpack on the ground and enjoy the view. Far down, on the other side of the valley, the postal bus meanders by. Incredible how far the sound of its engine carries. The Easterly wind swishes over the treetops. A blackbird sings. Lizards dash around the fireplace and over the castle walls, whizz through dead leaves and ivy. Coltsfoot shines golden in the grass and the cracks in the walls. A red bench has been stuck to a restored piece of buttress.
I hope, Conrad won't chicken out.
I imagine him parking his car by the stables, making his way up to the castle, shaking his head and asking himself why ever I've asked him to meet me here.
I prop up the backpack against the wall, unpack the wine first and put the bottle on the bench. The picnic-case catches in the fabric and I have difficulty untangling it. For the moment, I place the wrapped glasses next to the bottle. Nothing untoward is to happen to those.
With the spread out blanket next to the fireplace, the castle yard looks romantic indeed. And that's exactly the desired effect. I need Conrad to take me for a hopelessly romantic, and at forty-five still attractive widow.
(To be continued)