Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Where We Live
In honor of my blog title, I start today with a picture of the Schuberg. This picture was taken from our second-floor bedroom on a typically gray, misty day. For a small bump on the landscape, this drumlin is remarkably present, and is visible from much of the village. Whenever I go for a walk on the meadows and fields that surround our end of the village, I am aware of the Schuberg, and use it to navigate, although it is small enough that I can circumnavigate it in less than 20 minutes.
It is an interesting place to start today, because, for me, one of the more remarkable things about living in Europe is the sense of the passage of time. This bump of a hill is thousands and thousands of years old, dating from the last ice age, yet it persists, and has ingrained itself in local legend and lore. In addition to its geologic history, it reminds me of the fact that humans have lived on this land for thousands and thousands of years, and not just as migratory tribes, but also as settlers and farmers.
The village we live in is quite literally surrounded by farms. Most of the fields lie fallow this time of year, as seen in the photo above, although everything is quite green. In our immediate vicinity, the primary crops seem to be strawberries and Rüben, which are a type of turnip grown for animal feed. Probably half of the fields are left for pasture and hay--this is dairy country, for sure. However, there is an affluent element to the population here that also supports a tremendous number of horses. There are dozens of horse farms and riding academies in the region, bringing flocks of pre-teen girls out to the country on Saturday mornings for riding lessons.
There has been a plague of moles here this winter. They are protected by law, although they can really wreak havoc on fields that are mechanically harvested or planted. The picture above is just a small field: there are large fields absolutely covered in molehills where the damage is more apparent. Stefan and I have been entertaining theories as to why they are such a plague this year: a surge in worm populations due to the outlawing of some sort of pesticide or fertilizer; changes in soil chemistry due to the elimination of antibiotics from animal feed; or, the favorite, global warming. It is true that the soil no longer freezes in winter around here, and there is far less snow than in decades past. (Rumor has it that the river Alster in Hambrug has not frozen over in ten years.)
Global warming aside, it is definitely spring here. The weather has been pretty rainy and gray, but not terribly cold. We have had snowdrops and crocuses for weeks now, but the crocuses have really reached their peak in the last week. We had some beautiful sunny weather for the last couple of days, and the crocus just exploded in gardens and on lawns everywhere, most spectacularly on the big lawn outside of the local castle in Ahrensburg. Really a sea of purple and white, and glowing in the afternoon sun.
I will leave you with this lovely image today. Stay tuned for more pictures of Ahrensburg, our immediate neighborhood, our house and garden, and the little one, of course.