Let me tell you a secret.

This summer was amazing: June, July and August, the sun beating on the Rhine valley like god’s anvil, the temperature hardly ever dropping beneath the thirties in daytime. No rain, the cistern ran out of water quickly and we had to install more wine casks as raincollectors to water our tomatoes and fruits.

The local swimming pool was crowded every single day, the nights too hot to allow restful sleep and the farmers complained that the absence of rain was going to ruin the harvest.

This brought back childhood memories. Let me tell you a secret, that may proof valuable for you.

Many, many years ago, when I was still a very young boy, my father arrived home one night accompanied by two men carrying a big box. The box was put on the table and unpacked. It contained the very first television set that my parents had bought with their meager  income. Mind, this was the time when most people still spent the evenings listening to the wireless.

The men installed the television on a small table and left. My father switched it on. My mother, my sister, my brother and I looked eagerly at the screen.

Only atmospheric disturbance was visible: a gray soup of signal accompanied by a fizzy hissing sound. My father played with the two antennas, moving them from left to right and back again. Suddenly a voice appeared from the ether, and after some more fiddling, a human face emerged out of the signal swamp.

My father lowered himself next to us on the couch. The five of us stared at the man; the first person we had ever seen on a television.

The man wore a dirty blue cap. He was standing in the middle of a field, obviously a farmer. Another man, outside of view (we could only see his arm and hand) held a microphone under his mouth.

“What will happen…,” said the invisible man, “If it doesn’t rain within a few days?”

The farmer looked at the sky, at the ground and started a long explanation in an exotic dialect that we could not understand. But his facial expression and voice made clear that the end of the world, if not of all times, was closing in on us.

We watched his narrative for five minutes. Then my mother said: “What’s on the other channel?”

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