The riff this week was going to be variations on the theme of LYS and Local Yarn Sources. But life happens, and today's comment will cover a different community.
Horst Feist. Dr. Horst Feist. H. Feist, PhD (Chemistry), the naturalist, mycologist, orchard tender, husband, father, sandwich-maker extraordinaire, the man always ready to help. My brother-in-law. Ace's uncle.
Horst Feist: one of the kindest, humblest, most principled and honest people I have ever had the privilege to know.
We have forgotten what the Berlin Wall meant: the fabric of families pulled apart, the suspicion attached to a single letter from "the West." For years we could not communicate; it was too dangerous. Only later did we learn how, at home in East Germany, Horst refused to work for the Stasi, the Secret Police. The Stasi pressured many citizens to report on one another -- and to refuse could have consequences. We cannot begin to understand the personal risk that decision entailed, nor the strength of character it required. In material terms, it meant years of commuting two hours to work in the morning, and two hours back again at night, to a job that, for political reasons, would never become the career of which he was worthy.
The Wall came down; Horst and his wife visited California. We camped all over the Southwest in an El Nino year. It rained. It rained a lot. It rained pretty much non-stop. We stood in the square of a small town in New Mexico, and listened to a Park Ranger give the local history. It was still raining. We were soaked, and some of us were cranky. The rain fell on Horst's bare head. Horst stood straight and undaunted, as though the weather didn't exist or wasn't worth notice. Not a single complaint passed his lips; and in his posture, not even a hair's-breadth of judgment. It was stunning, his detachment, his attention to the Ranger, his complete presence in the moment. This image is my talisman, my North Star, my aspiration as a human being. Horst Feist: always present, in a life of uncomplaining service.
By now, you may have guessed - we got the news early on Monday (January 28, 2013). Sunday hadn't been a comfortable day, Monday was worse. Waiting for the taxi to the hospital, a different carriage arrived, and Horst left us. In the silence that remained, there may have been rain; certainly there were tears.