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Yet another harrowing read has emerged from the ruins of Nazi Germany: White Rose Black Forest (2018) by Eoin Dempsey. From the first paragraph to the last, high drama ignites questions, teases out near misses, and displays murderous violence. Grave concern for the survival of nurse Franka Berger and John Lynch, a wounded American spy wearing the captain‘s uniform of the Luftwaffe, heightens the suspense.

What gives this novel substance, though, is Dempsey’s incorporation of the White Rose—a 1942 resistance movement made up of University of Munich students and their philosophy professor. For eight months they printed and distributed pamphlets informing the populace of Hitler’s true agenda, until caught and many executed by the Gestapo. Among them was blonde, blue-eyed Franka, only spared because of her Aryan features and the prospects of her birthing children to support the Third Reich’s Thousand Year Millennium.

And the wintry Black Forest, a large mountainous region in southwest Germany, serves as a volatile character: Its blizzards, ice storms, moonlit nights, and freezing temperatures tense the plight of the pursued and their pursuers.

Donovan’s judiciously selected images and terse dialog imprint this riveting story upon his readers. With Franka and John, we identify with their bone-shuddering cold, exhaustion, hunger, and thirst; with them, we recoil from the Gestapo’s cunning.

In my perception, the noteworthy merit of White Rose Black Forest lies in activating psychic wars within our depths, where Gestapo-like insanity lurks, searching for lapses in consciousness.

In my present circumstances, vigilance is key.

 

From brooding skies belch handfuls of snow, etching tree trunks with lacy fingers, rounding shrubs with capes of ermine, and obscuring remnants of brown leaves mashed against fence posts. Winds rollick flakes in a centrifuge with a no turn-off switch.

Hours pass. Darkness encroaches this boisterous play. Within the halogen glow of street lamps, snow-swirls waltz to the strains of an invisible orchestra. Silence hushes this wintry phenomenon with wordlessness. And still it snows—throughout the night. With daylight comes a gradual surcease. Only traces of snow meander upon the white world, until finally exhausted.

Such displays reveal the white fire of an Unseen Presence beautifying the sordid, igniting our senses, and stirring our imaginations.

We are grateful.

 

Walking in my favorite garden pauses winter’s grief.

Morning sun toasts bracing air.
Subtle winds swipe bronze mobiles.
Earth-warmth sucks snow-encrusted beds.
Sand patterns swirl around clusters of azaleas.
Pond of tinsel-thin ice patches morph into shimmering waters.
Rushing streams jostle among stacks of rock.
Hidden beauty of skeletal trees reveal decades of endurance.
Chinese cork and beech trees hover candelabra-arms over spent grasses.
Stands of vibrant green bamboo glisten in the sun.
A two-sided bamboo shelter interfaces outer and inner worlds.
A flock of sheep, motionless these many winters, still heads northwest.

Yes, this is the Missouri Botanical Garden, a place of stillness and joy, but any garden will do.

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Available on Amazon

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