It loses a lot in translation but “Advent, Advent, ein Lichtlein brennt…” heralds the start of the Advent season here in Germany. A special time of winter cosiness, reflection and family traditions, all of which are built into our Advent candle display, this year like every year:
Four candles celebrating each season of the year gone by, family touches, memories and reflections on life’s constants:
It is no luxury eye-level wood-fired oven, the oven we have built in the orchard. It is a repurposed, get down on your knees wood-fired oven. Here’s the story of how we built it, starting in the summer of 2020.
I feel I have lived my entire adult life in these twenty years. And yet there were thirty-five fulfilled years of constant change before that.
These twenty years have been a bonus for they began with an armed hijack at the end of March 2001, two days before I left Cape Town. A survived hijack that catapaulted me into the last twenty years.
A new language, changed perspectives, deeper understandings. Old skills in new fields. New skills in unfamiliar surroundings. Abandoned comfort zones and newfound truths. Blessings and challenges. All constant reminders: the only constant is change.
An April free of frost is what we wanted and its what we got this year, that and a lot more too!
The warmest April for ten years in these parts has had the orchard out in its finest floral glory and – fortunately – there are still bees there to do the pollinating.
Even more fortunate, albeit long overdue and not yet enough, is the news last week of the EU’s ban on the outdoor use of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam i.e. the neonicotinoid pesticides that have had such a devastating impact on bee populations across Europe.
Back in the days before Bayer & Co, my German farmers’ almanac had this to say:
April warm, Mai kühl, Juni nass, füllt dem Bauer Scheuer und Fass
April warm, May cool, June wet, fills the farmer’s barn and barrel.
We’ve had the warm April, so now we wait to see whether May fits the pattern or not…
“IN ANCIENT AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES, EGGS PROVIDED A VITAL SOURCE OF NUTRITION. BY MID-MARCH, FOOD STORES FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR WOULD HAVE BEEN RUNNING LOW. THE FIRST EGGS OF THE YEAR, LAID BY DOMESTICATED FOWL OR FORAGED FROM THE NESTS OF WILD BIRDS, ADDED MUCH-NEEDED NUTRIENTS TO PEOPLES’ DIET. …”” read more
All quiet in the orchard at this time of the year (but Hermann the German is sharpening up his specialist tree pruning saw for the winter pruning due to start any weekend now…) so we (mainly me and sometimes Mini-Kraut) have been busy in the kitchen creating some more exhibits for our gingerbread gallery.
This year’s main creation has to remain a secret for the time being until this year’s Christmas Guests of Honour have been able to peruse and applaud it live, but we have been busy baking building components for lucky recipients in the neighbourhood, complete with building instructions, in German:
Here are a few flashbacks to past creations where we have gained all this skill and experience 🙂
2016:Recreated in gingerbread, the little village in the Wiesent Valley, close to Erlangen, where we like to spend our holidays and long weekends
2015:The tree house that collapsed and became a forest hideaway (Waldversteck)