Unfortunately. This past Saturday. I made the very unwise decision to count the number of days we had left in Germany. It was 49. That means that today there are 46 left. It is about this time that you can feel the life you knew slipping through your fingers and you can smell the scent of change in the air. I’m not sad. Almost. But not yet. I’m excited. Excited to consume all that I can while I can.
Taking advantage of the time left means over indulging in everything we will not find in Texas.
We had a German Lunch on Saturday in the charming town of Schwabach. This is Schäufele. The pre-Germany me would never have touched a pork shoulder. The German me, however, loves the way the flavors and textures of crispy pork skin, hot fat, tender meat, and beer gravy join forces for a most extraordinary bite. You can be sure that I will grab any and all chances to feast on regional dishes, such as this, for the remainder of my days here. Swine beware.
Saturday night we went to an early Christmas market in Muhr am See. I think many of you know what that means. In the event that you do not, allow me to paint the picture. We were on the lawn of the municipal building surrounded by wooden stalls that resemble miniature log cabins. Each was warmly lit, as were all of the surrounding trees. Vendors, artisans, and the local soccer team are selling everything from crafts, to waffles, to candles, to beer. We strolled through the market to get into the spirit of shopping, and then enjoyed mulled wine and sausage sandwiches to the sounds of Eddie and the Hurricanes. The music was an amusing conglomerate of CCR cover tunes and Christmas classics. It’s a wonderful feeling to be celebrating the arrival of the holiday season (and winter) by laughing with friends, sipping a hot beverage, and breathing the crisp night air. These markets will run everyday until the coming of Christmas day. And while I may become saturated with mulled wine and gingerbread, I’ll never tire of the atmosphere.
On Sunday we had coffee and cake with Ludwig and Katharina. While they have not yet begun numbering the days, they are feeling the time crunch. They are going to miss us (as we them) and they have a darling way of showing it. They are feeding us and showering us with treasures enough to last a lifetime. As we enjoyed our cake, they were not satisfied with us eating only one slice. It was an extra-wide slice, followed by another, topped with homemade cream, served with fresh coffee, cordial, and beers. Much to the dismay of my waistline, we ate and drank to their satisfaction. They know we love and appreciate everything they have shared with us. We love Bavaria and its traditions. We are fond of Katharina, her excellent cakes, and supreme Goulash and dumplings. She is impressive and humble in the kitchen to say the least. She always knows what to prepare and serve whether we are celebrating a holiday or just having a relaxing afternoon.
After the cake however, it was time for treasures of the Ludwig kind. It is Ludwig’s strong, quiet, thoughtful, funny, generous, outdoorsman character that we adore. We laugh at his hunting anecdotes and marvel at his fish tales. He loves showing us his guns, knives, and trophies. He has a room full of trophies and souvenirs. Many of them, he feels, he has acquired a lifetime ago and he is ready to give them away. Like the example above. It is a wolf’s image hand carved in a coin of deer antler. We’ve decided it is going to make another great adornment on Phil’s German hat.
I have always particularly admired Ludwig’s deer antlers mounted on shields that he carved himself. They are beautiful examples of Ludwig’s skill and sentiment. We are now proud owners of our very own trio of Ludwig’s work. To me, this gift embodies all of his fine qualities and skills as a crafter and a huntsman. He has given so much to Phil and I, but with this gift I feel unworthy.
If you are not German, or have never lived in southern Germany, then you might be thinking to yourself that these deer heads look rather small. The impressive fact is, that these deer do not get much larger. In fact, I have seen rabbits that are bigger than the deer in the fields. The two deer that are mounted on the darker, maple wood are about three or four years old. The deer on the walnut is the oldest and the biggest, at seven years old.
I love Germany. And I have Germany to thank for that. I’m going to love Texas too. And maybe I’ll have Germany to thank for that.