Today, we’re excited to share Judith Cooper’s flash nonfiction, “The Blue Raincoat”! Cooper carries us along on a trip through Germany as she reflects on her father’s life and his experiences, a Jewish WWII vet. With Cooper’s sharp eye and reminiscing voice, you’ll be holding your breath from the very first word: “Listen,” she instructs. Let’s listen.
Before you come to Germany, obey an impulse to revisit the past. Pack the ancient cobalt blue raincoat your parents bought in Bavaria in the 1970s.
Listen to the low hum on either side of the deserted road and imagine the huge mass of bees spread throughout the forest. Follow the ancient stone wall on your left that in some places stumbles and falls, in others is patched and stands strong. There is a constant trill of birdsong wherever you go. No people, no cars along the road, few houses. Surrender to this tiny Bavarian village that captures your heart.
Come to Germany a doubter, a Jew. Think about the good chunk of your family lost in the war and carry a big chip on your shoulder about where you are—at the same time that you adore the azure skies barely punctuated with clouds, the winding river that runs past your temporary home, the fourteenth-century ocher castle in charming disrepair just down the street. Cherish your wonderful German friends, both new and old, while imbibing the aura that hangs like a haze over the whole country.