Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Three places to vacation (8)

My sister and her boyfriend own a farmhouse with some acreage in the country in the vicinity of Landau in Lower Bavaria. My sister and I took the train to this out of the way part of paradise.

The two-story white-washed stucco house sits at the edge of the woods down a dirt road on a hillside surrounded by all kinds of fruit trees. There is a huge barn and a ramshackle but charming outbuilding, and from all the eaves petunia baskets are suspended that lend the building its cheerful character. There is a staircase that reaches the second floor from the outside. The railing is fashioned of decorative lattice work.

The living quarters are still in a state of remodeling. Many of the windows already have stained glass installed with sometimes very intricate patterns. A number of the rooms have new fireplaces that look as if they might have sprung right out of a house Harry Potter's friends might occupy.

My bed was a king size air-mattress that lost its air over-night while I was sleeping, and sometimes I had sunk so deep into the collapsing form that I nearly rolled onto the floor. No matter, I had a pump with which to replenish and solidify the structure.

My sister and boyfriend called the main room the "Rittersaal" (knight's hall). It was huge. They had their bed in it and a place to watch movies on a television set. There was no TV because they couldn't get good reception there and the cable would cost an arm and a leg to install.

The kitchen was the place where we spent much time because the cherries were ripe and the huge baskets of fruit had to be dealt with. The candles were lit in the kitchen when I came down for my 70th birthday. Flowers greeted me, and there were several presents including a book by Bill Bryson "Notes From a Big Country" and also the obligatory Salmiak-Pastillen that my sister always remembers to give me as a little inexpensive present because I had once told her that I loved their taste. When I was a child I would put those little pieces on the back of my hand to form a star-shape and lick that black star until it was all gone. The flat pieces taste a bit like licorice.

We spent some wonderful days at the house. It rained a few times. My sister's boyfriend's business is making candles which he sells at Christmas time at various markets in the vicinity of Munich.

I helped with the candles by sticking the wick into the metal forms before the wax is poured in. We took hikes through the wheat fields and watched the dog, an Akito named Goku, race through the woods and return and disappear again. I watched how the bread starter dough is made and how there is really nothing to it other than that it is very time-consuming. It seems--no not just seems--I had another experience of a lifetime.

Leaving the place was as enchanting as getting there. As evening fell the fireflies lit up and saw us drive away with a twinkle and a glimmer.


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