Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Just got back from a wonderful weekend. Short but wonderful. A few years ago I ran across an article in one of my many home deco magazines about a farm not too far from here (almost a 3 hour drive), and it was love at first sight. I had always been hoping to find a nice get-away, where we could spend some holiday time each year, gather memories, have adventures and just let our souls lavish in beautiful surroundings. Well, I’ve found it! Grillenöd is a romantically isolated property about half an hour away from Passau (itself a jem), at the end of a long winding dirt road which leads up through an “Alle” of oak trees. The Swedish style farm was lovingly and tastefully built over a ten year period by the Swedish wolf researcher, Eric Zimen and his artist wife. Since his death 5 years ago, Mona Zimen has managed to run the farm, work full time as a teacher, raise their 4 adoptive kids from Columbia, host children’s camps two weeks every summer as well as several weekends throughout the year, run a guest house, and expand her already impressive artistic repertoire to include sculpting. It was inspiring and exciting to meet such an accomplished woman.
Contrary to the internet weather reports, the sun held the stage until way past supper time Saturday, when stormy weather finally drew the curtain on out door activities. Jan, our kids and the two Zimen boys cooled down in the pond before and after lunch, while I tried to relax and read on the pier. This was after visits to the horses, ponies, and donkeys and an energetic soccer game. The kids got to hold a new born lamb, and play “Mary” to the tame lamb, which would have even followed them to school had it been a Monday. It was hilarious watching this sheep “hang out” with the group of kids as if they were a flock of sheep. Charis made breakfast for Jan and I, even getting the eggs herself from the chicken hutch. Sunday was another beautiful and sunny day of sleeping in, an unhurried breakfast, and quickly packing. The kids took another dip in the pond, while we enjoyed getting to know Mona Zimen, who was finishing off a bronze bust, and an acquaintance of her family, Joseph. Again, it was the stormy weather which called curfew to our visit, and finally sent us on our way home an hour after we had actually planned to leave.
We signed the kids up for a week-long summer camp, which is the first week of summer break in August. Jan and I hope to get back there sometime as well for a longer stay, if not this year than next. Sure beats the long drive to Sweden!
I'm posting more pictures on piccasa, and you can check out the website to see even better pictures from my list of links under the title "Check it Out.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Anyone standing on our balcony and comparing the thin dish towel strip of luscious lawn that belongs to our neighbors with the blotchy brown, green and white stuff on our side of the fence, would concur with this obvious fact. Of course the important thing is how one feels about it. It is not an imperative that such a blatant inequality evoke feelings of inferiority or envy. But it does. As you probably can guess, if you are someone who knows me well, I’m not at all happy about the fact that our grass isn’t as green. It is mossy in the shady spots, and brown in the sunny parts. Our yard is full of unrelenting weeds, and there are camouflaged potholes scattered throughout. Never mind the fact that we have a good 700 square meters more garden, space for a swing set, slide, a wading pool big enough for all the neighborhood kids, including the big boys, and more than enough flower beds ... more roses than I can mentally count. Still, how much nicer it would be, if we had one of those manicured English lawns underlying it all.
Not everyone in our family feels this way, however. Don’t misunderstand me, we are all aware that our grass doesn’t live up to its name. A condition most apparent when we have just been visiting friends whose thumbs are greener than ours, but not all of us Fischers think that that is a bad thing. Just the other day when the girls were happily practicing cartwheels and handstands in the garden, Charis, unsolicited, offered her perspective on our pathetic looking yard. “Mama, I like our garden better than our neighbor’s! They don’t have any daisies! And we have lots of dandelions and clover for our turtles to eat.”
Dumb kid! What does she know? The girls protest every time Jonathan cuts the grass, because he is murdering all the daisies. Admitted, they do make for pretty crowns, but they grow back the very next day, and we have no shortage!
Then she went on to say something I found to be quite profound for her age. “Mama, it is just like someone with a horse who whips and beats it to get it to do exactly what they want it to do. It has to do every little thing just right, or it will get beaten. It has no freedom. (Our neighbors) do the same thing with their grass, they whip it to get it to be perfect. I like our grass, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” Wow, what an analogy. Charis is only ten. Somewhere in what she said there is a lesson for me, I’m sure.