Friday night started off slowly and innocently at the Schützenhaus, a sort of clubhouse bungalow with a bar and a hall for shooting. The weather was gray and cool; the atmosphere was a bit awkward as many Germans are before they reach their pleasure plateau six beers in.
About 40 people were there for shooting and grilling, ages ranging from two to 70+. The kids romped and played football/soccer on the adjacent fields, only yowling once in a while when the parent would look in the direction and decide that the kid wasn’t in danger. Under a pavillion, which the village teen boys built out of wood and bricks, the same boys grilled sausages and marinated pork steaks. On a table nearby were sauerkraut, carrot salad, potato salad with ham and pickles, and bread with herbed butter that had been stuffed into bell peppers for decoration. Traditional German picnic benches and tables were set up in the parking lot and we all crowded around – aside from the few who felt it more important to have a few beers inside instead. Continue reading →
While studying in Hamburg and taking a mix of classes at the university and also ones taught by Smith professors, I took a class called “Landscapes of Northern Germany.” The class was taught by Professor Kai Jensen, who, although employed now by Uni Hamburg, used to specifically teach the class for Smith JYA students. Kai also spent a year or two teaching at Smith in Northampton with his family.
It’s not warm and it’s not cold and it’s not pleasant. It’s damp. The leaves are old and yellow, bright yellow at this point. They contrast starkly with the gray of the bark, the gray of the sky, the gray of the damp dirt ground. These are the kinds of days in November that trick you. They are ugly but yet there is something magical about them. They come with comfort after the surprise of autumn has worn off; this is the second phase, this is the realization that winter is coming. But you’ve made it to November and threads of the holidays creep in. Happiness comes from plans for the holidays, concoctions in the kitchen, preparations of the colder days to come. Yes, there have been hard frosts and bitter rainy days, but the short respite that comes in these transition days is much welcomed. There’s a slight mist that hangs around the bare branches, making the moisture in the air visible, giving the air that distinct autumnal scent. Continue reading →