[Backdating this so all my updated entries don’t fall on the same day!]
This year, I (we) participated in the Christchindlimärt, which is our local Christmas market. I sewed tons of fabric bags (three sizes), and made a bunch of Ringelblumen Salbe (Calendula Salve). The Ringelblumen Salbe sales covered everything; I only sold a few bags. It was a fun community event, and you can see a few pictures of my booth here. My family was a big help.
I started an online shop to market the leftovers, and actually had some after-sales of both salve and bags. But I’ve still got enough inventory to do it again next year.
Cleaned out the garden today. We had a beautiful sunny fall day, with about 60°F. I saw at least eight people on my street out trimming hedges, bushes and trees. Mathis trimmed along our whole back wall, and it looks so bare now. “Ready for winter,” he said. Anyway, I ended up getting a nice bouquet of Ringelblumen out of the scraps, even though they already got snowed on. They look good, and I’m amazed and grateful to have these sunny flowers in my kitchen in November!
My daughter thought I had lost my mind. “Mama, why are you jumping around like that?” Obama won! I found a box of firecrackers in the pantry and lit them all off in a bunch. Then I went in the back of my closet, way up on the top shelf, and dug out my American flag. I dusted it off and hung it in the front window with pride and joy. Nearly half the America voters are not so joy-filled today, but believe me–the rest of the world IS!!! And if Obama is the antichrist, so much the better. Come soon, Lord!
Okay, wait a minute . . .
The literal translation of “Halloween” in German is Heilige Abend. But that’s what they call Christmas Eve. Felt like Christmas, though. In fact, it was my first ever white Halloween. One advantage of the icy weather is that I’ve been able to burn my pumpkins every night for a week. My husband was asking me if I really had to carve four pumpkins. Yeah, because I like to carve and light pumpkins, and this is the only time I get to do it!!!
We attended a Pumpkin Festival (Kurbisfest) in Seengen a week ago Saturday (25th). All our friends and neighbors were there. You could pick out a pumpkin and carve it on the spot. There were tables set up, with knives and compost barrels. I showed up with my PumpkinMasters and blew everyone away. = ) There were also refreshments, including pumpkin soup over a fire. We had a beautiful sunny day, though it got cooler toward evening. Mathis had to go back for the car to tote the pumpkins, and of course the girls had to walk home “ganz allein” (without a chaperone). Barely had time to sneak in a smoke before I heard them coming. Not like kindergarten (was it only last year?) when it took them 40 minutes to get home!
Anyway, the temperature plummeted and Wednesday it started snowing. All of my neighbors who have kids are all in a gymnastics group with a big fest over the weekend. So I didn’t see any sense in trying to plan anything for Halloween, since no one would be around. And Lulu was agreed with that. But when she went out with her Papa to run errands Friday afternoon, I told him to pick up some candy for Halloween. He wasn’t going to do it, but when he saw me getting ready to put my shoes on, he got nervous and reluctantly agreed. He doesn’t want me going to buy the candy, for sure! He’s seen how that goes down at Mom’s house! = P
When I went to get the girls from choir practice, Lulu heard that one of the girls was “going to Halloween"! But we missed her, so Lulu had to call her when we got home. By then, it was 6:30–I had to start dinner, and had a half-carved pumpkin still on the kitchen counter. Lulu learned that her friend was heading out to knock on doors at 6:45. So dinner had to wait, and a lifetime of collecting “stuff” was put to good use as we outfitted Lulu for trick-or-treating. The ballerina dress was easy; the heavy sweater under it was more challenging! Tiara, pink handbag for collecting goodies (Thanks Mur!) and she was out the door in five minutes. Her friend’s family was eating dinner, and I left her there with the reassurance that her friend’s older brother would be taking them on a tour around the block, and they only had 45 minutes to do it. Perfect!
Steve called and described the Halloween preparations they were making in Florida. Then the doorbell rang and I was greeted by five greedy little outstretched hands. They knew they would get something at our house! Lulu wanted to stay out longer, and when I saw how the other kids were costumed, and how she had to deposit some of her candy to make more room in her bag, I gave her another 15 minutes. Then I went on the balcony and talked with Mom while I watched them go to a couple of houses.
Don’t worry, Mom. She’s not missing out. It’s not the same as in your neighborhood, but it has its own specialness, and I’m sure her memories of Halloween will be just as great as mine are. Someday, she’ll be telling her kids about how she was one of the first to trick-or-treat in Seengen, and how she could name who every treat came from. “Those were the days …”
After a relaxed Sunday morning breakfast, everyone gathered once again at the Budin’s house. We took a few pictures, then hit the streets. Hanging out on the corner, we watched the 30,000 to 35,000 tourists pour into this little village of 1500 to see the dragon. Many people stopped to take photos of the costumed locals. It was unbelieveable. But I guess since everyone has a digital camera these days, there are no more worries about wasting film. [Click here for pictures of Sunday.]
We walked all the way across town, to where the parade was lining up to start. Naturally, Laurent knew everyone, so we went around greeting his friends and seeing the floats. His friends on the rugby team were dressed as monks, with casks of wine, and supplied most of our drinks for the day. It was so tasty! I just wanted a little more … a little more … a little more … It was a good thing that we saw all the floats, etc. before the parade started, because we didn’t get to see the parade at all–we went in it! We just kinda started walking along, then dancing to the music of the band in front of us, and ended up dancing the whole 10km/6mi. And this was about the slowest parade in the world, starting and stopping and going about four hours. At one point, I was dancing with some guy, and the audience was clapping and cheering, and I realized that they thought I was supposed to be there. I had to laugh, knowing that I had just crashed the party. I thrilled with the knowledge that I was in this little village of Couches, dancing down the street, right in the middle of their once-every-20-years festival. My life is so full of bizarre but good fortune! I had SO MUCH FUN!!!
When we reached the end of the parade route, I realized that my shoes were too tight and my toenails too long. (I ended up with huge blisters under both of my big toenails, and lost them.) It was a long walk back to Budin’s house, but I got to see the rest of the parade on the way. The crowd was massive, but at one point I glimpsed Laurent’s dad being driven along stocked and shackled. Then came the star of the show–LA VIVRE–the dragon. He was still frightening the peasants, but Yoata had him under control, and he followed along like a puppy dog. The bridal party brought up the rear.
Then it was back to Budin’s house for refreshments (and some of that peach pie I missed the day before). But I couldn’t sit still knowing all that partying was going on, so I took off again and roamed the streets. In the town square, I enjoyed the rhythms of the drum corps. Then I wandered through the market, and stopped at a drink stand. I told the guy that I had had enough beer and wine, and wanted something different. He gave me a glass of “hydromel.” This was truly the nectar of the gods. Some know it as honey mead, but American mead is to hydromel what Hershey’s is to Lindt Swiss chocolate truffles. Not even in the same league, sorry.
Somehow, our group gathered again, and we set off for dinner at a huge tent outside of town. There was an authentic Celtic band, and we did some dancing, but really we were all in. We limped back to the house, packed our stuff, and I took my leave from some of the finest hosts I’ve ever known. With or without a festival, Couches is a wonderful place, made so by the friendly people there. I hope it doesn’t take another decade for me to get back there for another visit!
The drive to Couches through the Burgundy wine region was quite lovely. We arrived in the late morning and shared an aperitif with Laurent’s parents, Roger and Josette, and their friends Robert and Nicole. Then we headed up to the church for a reenactment of a medieval wedding. Phillip II, Duke of Burgundy, and Margaret III, Countess of Flanders, married June 1369. The church’s pastor played the role of officiating priest, and read from the original marriage ceremony, and I wondered if I would be brave enough to play a bride under such circumstances. Are the actors now really married?
The ceremony took place in a field behind the church, under one of the many gorgeous, monster trees that shades Couches from the August sun. I wore red for its alchemical significance, and was surprised to see that the bride and groom did too! I was especially impressed by the bride’s lovliness and grace, and took way too many photos (for Lulu). [Click here for pictures from Saturday.]
After the wedding, we returned to the Budin’s house for a wonderful lunch, with terrine, parsley-pressed ham, delicious garden vegetables, an unbelieveable rice salad, and exquisite cheeses! And white wine, and red wine, and a digestif. I didn’t have space left for the peach pie.
After lunch, we returned to the festivities in time for the start of the tournament, which included jousting, sword fighting, trick riding, medical rescue helicopter arriving …. One of the knights fell off his horse and got kicked in the head. Bad scene. The halftime show included a troupe of dancers, fire breathers, and leashed “bears.” It was scorching hot out there, so we were a bit relieved when it was over and we could go back to the house and drink again! We had so more great food, while visitors (Laurent’s grandparents, uncle, cousins, friends) came and went. It was great how at-home I felt, even though I could hardly talk to anyone. This time, I made sure to save room for dessert–tiramisu!!!
In the evening, we explored the medieval market and hung out in the town square (by the beer stall). Laurent’s cousin Jeremy’s drum corps was supposed to perform, but instead I was surprised by a Guggenmusik group from Piotta. People were actually dancing. We called it a night relatively early, considering how big of a party it was. But we wanted to be in good shape for the main event on Sunday.