Five, Six, Seven

Alternative title, “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’… into the future…”

Has anyone else had that darn Steve Miller Band song stuck in their heads a lot lately? Just me?

Slipping into the future feels about right. Somehow, it’s May, and tomorrow will begin the 8th week of working from home, self-isolating, sheltering in place, pick your description of choice. Not much has changed here since my post after the fourth week.

I’ve taken a few more long walks, which alternate between helping and making me all ragey at people who couldn’t possibly scootch over a bit. Nature has been tremendously helpful, the people less so. Typical.

Marry helped me identify some of the mystery produce in our new veggie delivery box. Turns out that this one was a rutabaga, which falls into the category of ‘shit I’ve never sought out before, but let’s figure out what to do with it!’ And no, we don’t normally let her on the countertops.

To shake things up a bit, and also to get out of the stretchy pants for a change, BV and I made good on our vow to try to do more cultural things. When he had to go into the office one day, he picked up some good pizza on the way home, we both donned our finest, and we ate pizza and watched an opera in the living room. The way that so many arts organizations have been putting up free content is pretty cool. And if we have no chance to get to New York anytime soon, at least we can enjoy the Met Opera’s daily stream for free.

Our friendly local kitten visited some more, and I made another focaccia bread. The yeast in the freezer is nearly gone now though, and there was still none to be found at Edeka this week, so I’ll have to put the bread trials on hold. Or get into sourdough like the rest of the world, apparently.

BV is a huge rhubarb fan, so I took a crack at this tart from the NYT. However, I didn’t have enough coconut to make the recipe’s crust. Instead, I made a Spekulatius crust, which is something I’d been wanting to try for awhile. I took a package of Spekulatius that were leftover from the holidays, crushed them up with butter, and some flour until I got a decent consistency that could be pressed into the cake pan. Then I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it would hold the custard, which it did. Fantastic!

Continuing the theme of occasionally putting on real clothes, we dressed up to go to the Biergarten: home edition, and spent more time clearing out the endless brush in the garden. I feel like it’s improving, but the bar was pretty low.

Pardon the roadworks sign there. It’s been suspiciously silent, and we nearly never walk down that street there, so I’m not entirely convinced they’re actually doing any work. Who knows.

So that’s where things stand in our little corner of Franconia. The May 1 holiday kicks off what is normally my favorite time of year here, where nearly every week or two means another public holiday in May and June. Of course we’ll still have those, and they’ll still be nice breaks from the work week, but the luster of ‘ooooh, what should we do with the long weekend?’ is missing.

They’re starting to slowly open some things up here, though more in some of other German states than in Bavaria. I guess all we can do is see how that goes and hope for the best.

And you? How are you staying sane wherever you are?

 

17/52

Week Four.

Week four of social distancing was, mercifully, a four-day workweek. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays here, and they came at a perfect time.

For the most part I’m still feeling pretty decent most days, and taking advantage of the good weather, garden, extra cooking time, and all of that. But by the end of the workday on Thursday, I was ready to pitch my headset out of the window. I don’t even like talking on the phone… and so after four weeks of spending most of the day with this stupid thing on my head, my ears were very ready for four days off.

YES I am aware that this is small potatoes, and YES I’m very happy to still have a job through all of this, and shouldn’t really complain, but my ears hurt.

As of this week Tuesday, BV is now working from home almost entirely. He may have to go in once a week if something needs organizing in person, but I’m happy to have him avoiding public transit more.

In preparation for the long weekend, he took a half day and picked up a car share so he could do a big shop. We hadn’t been to the Getränkemarkt since before Thanksgiving, so our stock of water, beer, and juice was empty. Now we’re restocked on beverages, and he also managed to pick up a few other large and unwieldy items that we usually save for car trips.

Easter weekend was mostly spent baking. I made both Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia and Swedish Cardamom Buns because everyone knows that Jesus only rises with yeast.

Besides that, we both tackled a bit more garden work. I didn’t get back to the fence clearing project, but I did manage to completely fill our compost box with dead grass that I raked out of the most offensive places in the garden. We may need to cut the grass more often. Maybe. We put down a bit of grass seed along the fence, and in some spots in the back that had been torn up when a mystery digger was parked back there a few weeks ago.

An outdoor brunch was also necessary, and the glorious weather lasted all the way through until this morning.

Really, it seems appropriate to end the long holiday weekend with a rainy Monday afternoon/evening. Hope it does some good for that grass seed.

The social distancing regulations that were announced a few weeks ago were scheduled to go through the upcoming weekend, with schools planned to reopen after the Easter holidays on the 20th. Nothing has changed yet as far as that plan goes, so let’s see what week five brings.

Side note: was thinking about doing quick posts with links to all the what-not that I’ve been cooking these last weeks… anyone in need of some new ideas and/or interested in that? Lemme know in ze comments!

And you? How are things going wherever you are?

 

13/52

Week Three Down.

How’s everyone doing out there?

Here in ze Dorf, we’re marching along. I’m still home; my only excursion out this week was to our local Edeka on Friday afternoon. People were keeping distance, sort of. Everyone in there was approximately 8000 years old though, which wasn’t great to see. It also seemed entirely too busy for that time of day normally, so I think next time I’ll be trying to go in a daytime window, preferably not on a Friday.

BV is still splitting his time, so he gives me missives from the outside world. His company has taken some measures to space people out, and I know he’s doing the best he can to steer clear of people on the trains and buses as much as he can. With these coming two weeks being the Easter holidays, they’ll be shorter than usual, and hopefully even emptier in the public spaces he does have to occupy.

Beyond work and yoga and cooking, this weekend we occupied ourselves with some intensive spring cleaning. He continued his plant preparation and every windowsill in the house in currently covered in small boxes hopefully sprouting some kind of seed or another. Some things have made their way out into the garden already, but most will end up in his balcony planters or, possibly a raised garden bed to avoid the slug issues we’ve had in the past. The garden bed needs building though, so minor detail there.

While he planted, I dusted and vacuumed the bejeezus out of the bedroom and living rooms. I do like our wooden ceilings but my lord do they collect spider webs. My neck hurt by the end of the day from looking up for so long! Curtains came down and got washed, furniture was shifted, needless to say, it was a long overdue cleaning. Poor Marry was mildly traumatized by how long I had the vacuum going, but she seems to have recovered. I’m slightly embarrassed by how long it took, and how much better it looks now. If the pollen stays mostly outside this spring, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Sunday should technically be a quiet day, but it was a bit warmer so we moved the cleaning party out to the garden. BV tackled the back of the house, where he chopped up a tree that he had taken down last weekend, and tried cleaning out next to the brush pile. Since we don’t have our big cherry tree anymore, it would be nice if we could get close to the small one in the back of the garden, but usually it was covered by piles of brush.

I didn’t help his cause though, as I took a rake to the fence line in the front of the house. There’s a weird plant up there, no idea what it is, but it results in piles of straight sticks out of the ground, most of which die quickly. Nearly the whole fence was covered in brush when I started, and this is how it looked by the end.

Not exactly an English garden yet, but much improved. I had to give up after three hours through. Between the leftover muscle aches from Saturday’s cleaning spree and clearing this mess out, I was KO. Where the brush starts again in the middle has more actual living plants, so it won’t be quite as bad (famous last words). But they’ll have to wait a few days at least. Plus there are some very sweet blue flowers in front of that mess and I didn’t want to trample all of them. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

So. Week four. Let’s see how we go.

 

 

12/52

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 11

Me: What should I write about?

BV *flipping through local magazines and generally procrastinating instead of putting another coat of varnish on the hallway floor*: Write about spring in ‘Schland.

Me: That’s general and I’ve kind of done a lot of that. What else?

BV: Write about *insert several other suggestions here*

Me: You are not helpful right now. Weren’t you going to varnish that hallway again tonight?

BV: … *flips through more pages*

… *several minutes pass* …

BV: Aww!

Me: Ooooh, is it a dog? (There are often dogs up for adoption at the local Tierheim in the magazines.)

BV: Nope… look!

He handed me the magazine and at the bottom of the page was a picture of a woman seated in a chair with an accordion. Next to her, stood a goat.

Me: What’s with the goat?

BV: No idea. Didn’t read the whole thing, but there’s some culture program.

Me: I have questions. Does the goat figure into her act?

BV: *flips through more pages*

… *several more minutes pass* …

BV: Alright, I’m going. Write about goats.

Me: *starts typing furiously*

We need a goat. I think this would be a much better choice than even those robot lawnmower things. I would also accept a duck or goose, as those eat bugs and function as guard dogs, but I think a goat would be the preferable choice. I also have aspirations of one day learning how to make cheese, and this would save us a small fortune because we buy A LOT of goat’s cheese. We’ll also need a cow, and possibly a sheep. All of these animals will fit very well in the small mountain house that we someday acquire for Euro pennies, and we shall grow geraniums and make cheese. It will be excellent.

I already know that we’re both very good with goats, as last summer a goat tried its best to befriend us. BV won’t let me post the pictures where the goat tried to make out with him, but he definitely got licked. A lot. Running back down to the car when he realized that he had forgotten his jacket a few kilometers below, and then back up again, had apparently made him extra salty. But here you can see the goat in question checking out our gear when we stopped for a break.

Nomnomnom

It was a good thing BV had gone back for his jacket though, as our return trip was decidedly misty. But the goats still emerged from the fog to join our pack. We are natural herders, it seems.

Closer to home, there is a garden patch nearby here that is also home to a goat. Sometimes.

What does that mean? I don’t know exactly, but I have questions.

It’s a little garden plot in the forest, with two small structures on it. One is more garden-house style, but extremely *ahem* rustic. The other looks a bit like a chicken coop.

On my usual walking route, I pass by at least a few times a week this time of year. There is almost always an elderly man there on Sundays, with a small hatchback car. When he is there, there is also a goat.

The chicken coop-looking structure is certainly large enough to fit this goat, which is a decent sized animal. Much bigger than those little guys above. However, it’s nowhere near big enough for him to live in there full-time. Additionally, I’ve never heard a peep of noise when walking past and the man isn’t there. And you bet I have paused, tried to make some noises, just to determine if anything might be in the coop besides chickens (which are sometimes knocking about when the man is present, too).

So where does this goat live? Does he live in the coop? Does he live in the rustic house and just not get out much? Does he travel with the man in the car on Sundays to this garden plot? Does he travel in the car generally speaking?

In which case…

Where does this man live the rest of the time? Does he have a house with enough space to afford a goat to live with him? In which case, why this little garden plot? Does he live in a flat with a goat? What does the goat do all day? Do they travel around and have adventures? Is he some sort of emotional support animal? Does he detect if the man’s blood sugar is too high or low like those diabetes-detecting dogs? Does he do tricks? Do they perhaps go to children’s birthday parties?

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

I’ve been walking past this… situation for quite awhile now, in case you couldn’t tell. I’ve given this a lot of thought. But the mystery remains.

Well now. Goats, sheep, and yes, CATS. What other animals should I tackle during the May writing challenge which is unintentionally becoming animal-themed?

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

Expat/Immigrant Qs

When I ran across this Q&A post earlier today on the very enjoyable blogs of Bev and Ami, I thought “that sounds like a good topic for a rainy day.” Turns out, it was a rather lovely day here but I’m home alone and have watched everything new… so there’s no time like the present!

Some people call me an expat, some may call me an immigrant, but either way I’m an American in a place that isn’t the United States. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?

I was born in Menomonee Falls, WI, lived in Milwaukee until I was seven, then we moved to Eagle, WI. Eagle is mostly known for its smiley-faced water tower, and that’s about it. After a stint in Prague, I moved to Nuremberg in 2011, and eventually here to the ze Dorf outside Nuremberg in 2013.

Our village has a castle, and the castle has this cool gateway.

2. WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY

Floating in a sea of “what now?” post-college, I decided that my best bet to travel while still making money was to get a TEFL certification and try to teach English. I had no idea how long I wanted to do it for, and where I would end up going, but nearly nine years on I guess it has worked out okay for me.

3. WHAT TYPE OF REACTIONS DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE AND TELL THEM WHERE YOU ARE FROM?

This has definitely shifted in the last year and change. It used to be an “okay, cool, where in the U.S.?” and now it’s a decidedly less relaxed conversation, thanks to 45. Germans have been pretty used to an American presence in most places since the end of the Second World War, so we aren’t really anything that new and exciting here. I do find the reactions of military-affiliated Americans funny sometimes, in that they’re confused by what I’m doing here of my own volition.

4. WHAT WAS THE EASIEST/HARDEST PART IN ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

After coming from Prague, a lot of things seemed really easy. The paperwork had some sense of order to it, whether or not everything was being done correctly, was something I wouldn’t get into trouble with for a couple years though. The hardest part was not being surrounded by a group of built-in friends right from the get-go. I’ve found people here but it took some time, and if you’re not the most outgoing, social person in the world (introverts unite! Separately!) making friends here can be tricky. The good news is that once you are friends with someone here, they are sticking around. To me, that’s invaluable.

One of the first girls I met here six years ago got married in June. It was lovely.

5. IMAGES, WORDS OR SOUNDS THAT SUM UP THE EXPAT EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD SO FAR.

In Prague it was the sound of the tram. My bedroom window overlooked a stop where six trams stopped during the day and four at night. The drivers ring the bell every time they start so that sound is inextricably linked with Prague in my brain. In Germany, it’s a lot of things… Red trains. Red trains for days. Alpine bells, or the sound of the rooster next door crowing. The smell of roasted almonds at the summer festivals, or that smell mingling with the scent of Glühwein at the Christmas markets.

Red trains > other trains.

6. YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD OR DRINK ITEM IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY

Käsespätzle is life. Not to mention a frosty glass of whatever local beer is on tap (minus Tucher, that is).

Kirchweih libations.

7. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU SAID “YES” TO IN YOUR NEW CITY THAT YOU WOULDN’T SAY “YES” TO, BACK HOME?

Probably spending as much time on public transportation as I do here. First of all, where I grew up there was no public transportation. If I wanted to find a public bus, I’d have to drive 30 minutes in Waukesha, and get on a bus there. Doesn’t make much sense, really. I took a Greyhound one time in college and that was enough to freak me out on the Greyhound experience. The only times I can remember taking anything like public transportation was a shuttle bus down to the Milwaukee lakefront for Summerfest, a Brewer game, or some other sort of special event. Otherwise it was all cars, all the time.

8. ARE THERE ANY CULTURAL NORMS/PHRASES IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY WHICH YOU CANNOT STAND?

Sometimes I’m amazed that Germans are able to get anything done when they spend half of their lives shaking hands. I now know that if BV and I have to leave a family gathering, it’s necessary to start that process about an hour before we actually plan to leave, especially if we have to catch a train. Give me an “Irish Exit” any day of the week, because to me, that’s better than demanding people’s attention, interrupting conversations, etc. in order to have a formal goodbye.

Additionally, I’ve found that since a good deal of my classes have taken place in more technically-oriented companies, I’ve had to hear a fair amount of “women be shopping” sort of jokes (or half-jokes) from my mostly male groups. My usual strategy is to laugh it off and give them a bit of shit for that attitude, but I’m really not a fan. I have also tried out the tactic of switching the discussion to their hobbies because guess what? All that specialized sporting equipment, all those electronic toys and gadgets you have at home? Those are not cheap, buddy. Just because you only have two pairs of shoes does not mean you are a supreme example of fiscal responsibility. Most of these guys would say that women and men are equal in their companies, and in Germany as a whole, but they have a long way to go on a lot of things here.*

9. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST DOING IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY?

Any frequent readers of this blog can answer this one, I think. Get me south to the Alps and I am a happy camper.

Hiking in Austria this August.

10. DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER MOVE HOME FOR GOOD?

That is a question that I have a hard time answering. Never say never is usually a good philosophy for me, but the chaotic way that things seem to be unraveling at the moment makes me lean towards no way. If something should happen that means I do have to go “home” for a period of time, that’s one thing. But after nearly nine years gone? In those nine years, I think I’ve seen enough of this way of life to make me confident that this is what I want, and what fits the life I want to live best.

The water of the Eibsee is as refreshing as it looks.

 

*Not that the U.S. is doing much better at the moment.

Six Years In

Yesterday marked my 6-year anniversary of living in Germany. I spent the majority of the day teaching in company Zap, which was rather fitting as that was the company that I was originally hired to teach at here. Tuesdays at company Zap are full days, and usually by the time I get home I’m completely bushed. Unfortunately yesterday the workday wasn’t over, as we had a few stops to make on the way home, and when we arrived I had to  get on the phone for two quick phone lessons that I’m doing as part of a multi-facet business course.

But, let’s be honest, none of that is all that exciting for such a momentous occasion as surviving yet another year among the madness of the Deutsch.

Instead, allow me to present some pictures of what’s been going on in just this last week. As I mentioned back in May, June has been pretty jam-packed. I have missed writing more often, honestly, but there’s been so much going on that I haven’t managed to settle myself down at the computer to do anything about it.

So what have I been up to? Well let’s dive into last weekend…

On Friday after I finished work, I met BV at home where he was lounging and enjoying yet another ‘bridge day.’  Since it was beautiful weather and not ungodly hot, we decided to take a long walk to the lovely biergarten on the river about eight kilometers away. While on the way there we spotted this restaurant in a small village, and thought its terrace looked rather inviting. After the biergarten and a salty pretzel or two, we got back to this village and decided our thirst needed another drink to quench it. So we stopped, had a drink, watched the birds swooping in and out of the barn across the street, and I admired the window boxes. Lush window boxes are delightful.

Then we wandered our way back home, and juuuuust so happened to come across the entrance to our village’s Kirchweih, which had just begun. And you bet your ass we stopped off to get some roasted nuts and yes, another beer. It wasn’t the plan, but we managed to turn our nice walk into an impromptu beer hike. Whoops.

The next day we slept later than planned (wonder why), frantically packed our bags, made ourselves presentable and headed off to the chapel…

My very lovely Sprachduo friend E. was marrying her fella of 12 years, and it was quite the occasion. Previously I’ve attended two German weddings, both from friends/colleagues of BV, and they were lovely. But this couple were both village mice, and the events of the day reflected that. For starters, they’re both involved in music groups, so there were several performances by various bands scattered throughout the day. His soccer and Kerwa clubs showed up during the ceremony, and sneakily erected a tiny Kerwabaum* while we were all in the church. Naturally they also brought and tapped a pony keg for the occasion.

Then everyone was off to the reception location, minus us, as we had to make a short detour to the nearest town with a store (any store) that sold shirts because guess who managed to bring two pairs of shorts for Sunday but not a shirt? That would be me. Again, whoops.

Shirt acquired, we joined everyone else at the reception location where everyone was already deep into the Sekt and another couple of kegs. Dishes of appetizers were passed around while everyone mingled and photos were done. Eventually the cake made an appearance, and after everyone snagged a slice or ten (so many cakes at German weddings!), all the men scampered off to another hotel bar up the road. This is fairly common. Sometimes the bride also gets kidnapped but not this time. They just got a little more sauced up while all the ladies organized themselves for more pictures. BV declined the additional sauce, so he even got to play photographer. Good man.

I’m currently in a phase where I actually don’t hate photos of myself, and I wanted to show off my grandma’s ring, which I can finally, somewhat miraculously, now wear. I always planned to get it resized but turns out? My fingers were just chubby.

Please enjoy a rare nice picture of me, especially with svelte fingers and a cocktail ring.

As is typical with German weddings, we made ze all-night party, yah. When the band finally started to break down the equipment, I checked my watch and was shocked to see the time… damn near 3am. We packed it in but rumor has it that the party continued until nearly 7. I don’t know how the couple managed to appear functional at breakfast but they are troopers.

Since the wedding was in the very lovely area close to the Franconian Switzerland, we planned to do a bit of hiking on Sunday. And hike we did, picking a round tour through the area. It promised a stop on top of a nearby hill at a Hütte, which was lovely but closed. The Franconian Switzerland strikes again!

We soldiered on, around a few more villages, admiring the overflowing gardens, and hunting for anyplace that could serve us something liquid. Preferably a yeast-based beverage. Mostly, it was just Fachwerk and flowers though. It’s okay. I do love Fachwerk, regardless of how thirsty I am.

We ended up right back where we started which was good since 1) it was supposed to be a round tour and 2) that’s where the car was. Even better, there were a few restaurants open and they had cold drinks. Sunday was the day when the temperature really started to creep up and we almost knocked over the waitress in our attempts to ensure they were still serving.

The day’s tour over, it was time to head home again and prep for the week ahead. Class papers to sort, grills to be lit, all of that good stuff.

Which brings us back to Tuesday. Six years in. I can’t say that I have any wise words or deep thoughts on what it’s like to have been here for so long. There have been ups, there have been downs. That’s life. But lately, it’s been a lot more ups and I can’t say that I regret anything that has happened along the way.

I love living here. I love the life that BV and I have created for ourselves in our little Franconian nook. I love the friends that I have made here. And I love that I’m still surprised and amused by the oddities of ze Germany. Boredom kills brain cells and I need those little guys. So Prost to that.

 

*See Kirchweih link above for clarification on that one.

31-Day Challenge: Day 26

Describe a walk around your block…

***

We don’t really have a block, so to speak, at least not in the traditional grid sense of your typical American city. Instead, I’ll tell you a bit about my new walking route, which has been deemed “Upper Dorf.”

A couple years ago when I started walking and trying (unsuccessfully) to jog, I formed a “Lower Dorf” route. I still like that route, but it involves crossing a lot more streets, even going directly through a new neighborhood, and frankly, there’s just more people than I like to see when I’m wandering about.

BV went questing into the forest one day in search of dirt (don’t ask), and discovered a new trail, which has now become part of a larger track that I’ve been developing.

As I mentioned a few posts back, since getting the Fitbit, I’ve been trying to get those ten thousand steps a day that we all supposedly need. I’ve got my new trail down to right about nine thousand, which ensures that even on the laziest days, as long as I do that, we’re good to go.

To start off, we leave the house and go around the train station. Don’t make eye contact with the loitering teenagers, and watch out for broken glass on the ground. Also, if they’re having noise contests with their scooters, just ignore them. Passing by the small area of rowhouses and the old station building, go through a gate and under an archway of flowering bushes. This will bring you out in a duplex’s parking area, but just go around the house and turn right back towards the street.

At the next street take a left and in a few steps you’ll be onto the gravel road that goes to some of the local garden plots. Past them, the gravel street narrows to a bike path that connects us to the next village. But we’re not going that far. The short stretch of trees on the right will come to an end, and then you turn right too. Across the field and past the fish ponds, go up the hill and you’ll come to another gravel service road and a few isolated garden houses.

Off to the right you might hear some traffic, but that’s our direction. When you come to the street, check for cars of course, and then go across. It doesn’t look like much now that everything is blooming, but there’s a small path through the forest here. After a quick uphill climb, the path will widen and more paths will come and cross at every which angle. Despite the myriad of trails, it’s rare to see more than a dog walker or an old farmer checking on his trees here. Keep going straight and after passing through the thickly planted area inside a fence, start to the bear to the right. Coming to the top of another small hill, you’ll see another street, which we’re crossing again.

Through another small field with three carp ponds waaaay off to the left, and we’re back onto a gravel farm road. A quick pass under the trees and then a great expanse is in front of you. Depending on the season the squares in front are brown, green, yellow, or right now, all of the above dappled with wildflowers. Time is of no importance and the sun is shining, so again we’ll turn left. On a sunny day all around the field we can look off in the distance and see the Nürnberg TV tower, and beyond that, the soft blue outlines of the hills that surround the city.

The long straight road comes to an intersection. In front of you to the left and the right are small fields with horses. Turn right, passing horses and freshly turned over ground on the left, and a field of waving grasses on the right. A few more minutes brings a T-junction, with more horses to the left. Left also goes to the next village, so we’ll turn right. The road abandons its square lines here, instead snaking into the forest. We follow that through a stretch of forest and come out on the edge of yet another grassy field.

Off to the right we can see a few farm buildings, but let’s turn left again. Around the square we go, today having to pass around two cars that are parked side-by-side on the small farm road, while their owners have a chat. A few more turns and we pass by a dog walker, nodding hello to both man and dog.

Three sides of the field pass by, bringing us to the front of the farm buildings. A sign advertises fresh eggs and milk, and the occasional cow can be heard from deep inside an enormous barn. We caught glimpses of the chickens as we passed by the hedge, but they much have a much quieter rooster than our neighbors.

The farm buildings are connected to yet another village by a long allée lined with birch trees. We follow the trees, just keeping up with a tractor kicking us dust far off in the field to the left. Another patch of forest behind the field on the right comes closer and closer until the field narrows and the forest meets the road. Here we turn right again.

Following the edge of the forest on the right and another field on the left, we start to hear a faint humming sound. It grows louder and louder, and then between the trees we see the outline of some brightly painted boxes. The beehives are open for business. A safe distance away is an insect hotel, where a few bees buzz in and out, in addition to its other residents.

Circling another field we have a view to the skyline of our own small village. Most of the houses are shielded from view by trees that are bright green, though just a few weeks ago they were white with blossoms. Now the white blossoms are all around us, as we’ve left the farm field behind and are crossing through a grassy meadow. Ahead of us the first farm field grows closer and closer, the yellow heads of the rapeseed waving in a slight breeze.

The field gradually slopes uphill, until we come to the first intersection we met. Reversing our path, it’s back through the trees, across the roads, through the forest paths, back around the train station with its loitering youths, and home again. Now it’s time for a book, a sunny spot in the garden, and a loooooong drink of water. Or a beer, your choice.

***

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary. 

Sunday Snapshots: Deceptively Peaceful?

fachwerk cdg

Franconia, 2014

This picture is of one of my favorite little buildings in our village center. Don’t be fooled though, because even the idyllic-looking villages have their share of the dramz.

Earlier today, BV skipped off to vote in a local election. They are currently debating building a bypass road around our village, as currently many residents of the surrounding villages have to drive right through our town center on their commute to/from the highway to Nürnberg every day. As with every small-town drama, the two sides are viciously waging war on the pros and cons of this bypass and everyone is so entrenched in their positions that a resolution probably will not be found without blood on the ground. Whatever the German version of the Hatfields and McCoys is pretty much what’s going on down here (Müllers und Schmidts? too basic. Bauers und Brandmeiers? yes, let’s go with that).

So that’s what’s going on down here. Though when coming from a small town, it is somewhat comforting to know that some things are universal.