Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Monday, May 01, 2006

Can't See the Trees for the Forest

It starts to rain more than a few drops. I fumble with the zipper of my jacket, but it's on the "wrong side." Dammit, this is my American jacket ... three years of fumbling with German zippers, and now I have to remember how to zip on the other side.

Then the Partnerin asks, "What do we do about our Winter clothes?"

We've had this conversation before ... Do we dry-clean them before we store them? How do we store them? Do we give some to the needy?, And so on.

I think about it for 2 seconds as I still struggle with the zipper, "We burn them!"

This would have shocked her four years ago, but now she simply says, "Don't you think that is a bit extreme?"

"Look at it this way ... you get to do more shopping."

"Oh! That would be nice!"

She wasn't expecting that ... advantage Mike.

We are walking down the hill back to the car after having wandered about the Taunus forest for the past two hours. We had planned to wander on Saturday, then Sunday, but on each day we found other things to do since the skies seemed to keep promising and occasionally delivering rain.

This morning she dragged me out of bed at 10:30 ... I hate being up so early on any day, much less a holiday.

"The sun is shining ... get up! We are going Wandering. Wandering! Yipee!"

I wonder where she learned "Yipee" ... it's not in my vocabulary. "Woohoo," maybe. "Yipee" never. I am prone to hyperbole in many things except in expressing my emotions. Then I become the Iceman. But it is a nice day from what I can see through the Rolladen the Partnerin has rudely drawn up.

I am reminded of a line from Henry David Thoreau in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers ... I'm doing this from memory, so don't hate me if I muck it up a little ...

Ply thy oars,
Away, away,
In the dewdrop of the morning
Lies the promise of the day.

I hate mornings.

This is a holiday. She expects breakfast. Worse still, she expects breakfast with me. I hate breakfast. Perhaps that's why I like Spain ... I lived in Portugal for a year-and-a-half, and we never ate breakfast there. A big lunch, a long dinner, but thank heaven no pressing need for me to show up at the breakfast table. I know some people in Spain and Portugal eat breakfast, but none with whom I shared any significant amount of time back then. Different story altogether in Germany.

With breakfast mercifully out of the way, the next question is, "Where do we go?" Good question. In preparation for walking Hadrian's Wall last year, we hiked Frankfurt and its surroundings to death. Nothing sounds particularly appealing today, but I give it some thought.

She's been deskbound for several months, and at best I have been walking the flatlands. Today seems like a good day to do both vertical as well as some horizontal, so the Saalburg and the Taunus seem like a good choice.

The Saalburg jumps out because my brain is still stuck in Roman times from the Lost Blogger week. It has a nice reproduction of a Roman frontier fortress as well as partial excavations of actual Roman stones from the times of my old friend Hadrianus Augustus.

More to the point, it is directly on the Deutsches Limes, the Roman line marking the edge of the empire in Germany. It's still in evidence if you know what you are looking for. Not impressive from a 21st Century viewpoint ... not as awe-inspiring as some stretches of Hadrian's Wall, but think back to how long it took you to dig a row in your garden and then transpose that to a rampart and ditch construct that runs for 550 Kilometers and you have a real appreciation for what these people accomplished two millenia ago.

Then we stumble across a bunker-like construction off to the side. I actually have no idea what it is, but it seems out of place for a forest. We decide to check it out.

"But it is muddy," she complains.

"That's why we are wearing hiking boots!"

Most people walk or ride on by these things. The riding part made the Partnerin crazy. Zwooooooosh every minute or so as a cylist came screaming down the hill. Good thing she was in bright red, so they had a chance to see her. She really was in that pic, but she was nearly clipped by the cyclist, so you can't see her here.

So, with mud no longer being a deterrent, we wander off the beaten path and go straight for the summit. The Partnerin has never been able to pace herself, so she takes off for the top. I might be in better condition, but she leaves me in the leaves. I'm in awe. She later confesses she was winded, but she conquered that hill like a Roman.

Nearly 5Km from the outset, we are at the top of this ridge. We find an interesting outcrop. We also find a new trail that parallels the Limes, so we follow it for a few hundred meters and then we head left for new territory.

We follow that for a few hundred meters more and find a series of trees with earth dug up around them. The Partnerin asks, "What's this?"

Sounding both thoughtful and authoritative, I state "Hmmm ... maybe wild boars were looking for truffles." What do I know about these things?

And at some point along here I wish I carried an audio recorder, because the Partnerin and I could probably do a nice podcast. We've been talking on for hours now about this and that, and I realize we talk a lot and about so many things. Her parents made this observation once: "Do you two really talk so much?" Yep. Today it was everything from Roman history to how Coniferous trees came to crowd out Deciduous trees in German forests, to German history and the various traces one finds about the country side, and other topics of a light-hearted but more personal nature. I never thought I would have so much to say to one person about so much and so little. How does she bring out the best in me?

Then it is time to head back. The Partnerin is thirsty, and we brought no water.

I realize that after more than a quarter of a century, I still practice half of the stuff they taught us in survival school. "Drink water, Ration Sweat." I drank plenty of water before we left. As I started to heat up, I took off my jacket and wrapped it around my waist. The half that I forgot was to look out for the Partnerin ... She has been wearing her jacket zipped up all along, and she is dehydrated.

I was taking in the eons of natural history and millenia of human history around us, I had the good sense to remember a quarter century of personal history, and I was really enjoying half a decade of our history together. Forests and trees.


Blogger Rich said...

Hello Auslander! Love your blog! I also like to hike. Have you tried out geocaching. . My wife and I got hooked on this sport soon after we moved here to Germany. Drop me a note sometime if you ever want to give it a try. We live just south of Frankfurt near Darmstadt.

9:40 AM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Mike B said...

Hi Rich, I almost took the GPS out with us, but for some reason decided to leave it behind.

I haven't done geocaching yet ... will have to look into it. Thanks for the link!

Thanks also for the compliment!

10:32 AM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Just another American Expat said...

Great Post!

I never realized American zippers were on the other side. Humm.

We took a little hike yesterday ourselves in which we sort of took "the path less chosen." A real adventure. Luckily it ended with beer.

10:46 AM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Maribeth said...

I always insisted that if we were going to hike in the forest there was beer at the end of the path! LOL!
I loved th epictures. Beautiful!

3:19 PM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger christina said...

Great post and very nice tribute to your better half.

9:49 PM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Hmmm - Burning clothes... I would have totally thought it was fully winter still from these pics. But I think spring is later this year everywhere.

10:06 PM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Mike B said...

Expat: Thanks! It's not just fear of learning new sizes that should make us pause before we buy clothes over here.

Maribeth: No beer that day, but we had a steak afterward!

Christina: I worry sometimes that I portray her as a dumb blonde as a cheap device to advance my blog. Truth is, she is Gracie to my George, and everyone knows who the brains really were in that pair.

Traveller: Come on, there is some green showing ???

12:09 AM, May 03, 2006  
Blogger Claire said...

Nice pictures! I don't wander, though. I like nature - at a distance. Actually I don't mind a nice bit of bike riding, but after walking for about 30 minutes I usually want to sit down.

2:30 PM, May 03, 2006  

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