Recent German Musings

As you may have noticed last week on the FB page, my Oktoberfest and Bavarian scarf making is in full swing. I even had a sale! There’s nothing like an early sale to gather the wind in my sails; and in this particular case I needed it. There existed a little voice in the back of my mind that was telling me people may not be interested in purchasing Bavarian scarves made by someone who isn’t actually Bavarian. That voice has since quieted, especially since this (first) customer was, herself, a German. Her praise of my new designs was exactly what I needed. I plan on making more very soon, along with some Bavarian hoodies.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time (in the past few weeks) with new German families. Until I actually met these families (of a different culture) I never realized how different they can be from our American family-units. This is no more evident than in the home, and who that home is filled with. It has been my recent experience, that it remains customary in Germany for an extended family to live together. One address can have multiple dwellings with multiple generations of family members inside; grandparents to grandchildren, and brother-in-laws to uncles. One family I visited recently had lived on their property through eight generations. I think that demonstrates true dedication to land, family, and lifestyle. I think it must have positive impacts on a community too. In  my own upbringing I lived in a home with my grnadparents and extended family, and because of it felt that I had endless love, support, and companionship. In general the U.S. however, I think this is a rarity; with children looking forward to the day they get out of the house, off to college, and move to the other side of the country. It’s likely more American to think that life is more about your relationships with people you are not related to, rather than your relationships with those to which you are related.

Since I currently live with my husband on the other side of the world from our families I daydream of us being closer. Then I start to envision a communal living situation where we interact with one another everyday, maybe even every meal. How strong would our family be? How much stronger would my husband and I be? How many of us and our family members would want to find out? At the very least I believe it would influence us to change our definition of social responsibility.

Catharina and Ludwig invited us to have lunch with our neighbors yesterday. The weather was a bit junky, but Ludwig and Jurgen (the neighbor) spent the entire morning outside with the grill and the smoker anyway. Jurgen is a butcher. He deals in restaurant supply. Phil and I really enjoyed meeting him and his family. They grilled pork steaks and smoked fresh Rainbow Trout and eel. The fish had come from Ludwig’s recent excursions. The ladies made our side dishes and the rest of lunch consisted of pickled pasta salad, potato salad, (what I would describe as) onion coleslaw, fresh horseradish, brown baker’s bread, local beer, and local Schnapps. It was the first time Phil and I had ever eaten fresh smoked fish or eel; and for that matter, it was our first time with steaks cut and prepared by a butcher. After lunch we got the tour of Jurgen’s families’ house. The tour was at Ludwig’s prompting, but Jurgen was happy to do it. The tour finished up in Jurgen’s cellar where he demonstrated for us all of the ins-and-outs of his personal butchery. (dare I call it the slaughter, slice, and stuffing room) The room, while having lots of tools in it I would only recognize from a scene in a horror film, was very clean and smelled delicious. (of smoke and spice) I am constantly impressed by the amount of activities that the Germans will do by themselves and for themselves. Things like gardening, sausage making, baking, and brewing are such labors of love with (I think) the processes seeming just as rewarding as the products. I see the pinnacle of the rewards, however, being the large (and vastly populated) Sunday lunch that morphs into Sunday dinner; with friends and relatives gathered around eating well… and laughing and smiling even better.