Wednesday, May 9, 2007

5 April: An Authentic German House

After our walk today, Evelyne invited me in for coffee. They live on the top two floors of a duplex with a large front yard that slopes down to the street. She has a lovely flower garden and a good-sized manmade pond where she raises goldfish. Right now there are several thousand tadpoles swimming in it as well. We walked up the stairs and I was confronted by several wild boar skins and dozens of deer antlers mounted on the walls. Their living room is full of German antiques, including several huge painted cupboards and chests. The kitchen is literally wallpapered with all shapes and sizes of carved Springerle cookie molds (similar to the one we bought in Würzburg on our Romantic Road trip). More treasures are to be found in their dining room…a whole wall of antique porcelain plates engraved with Unser täglich Brot gieb uns Heute ( “Give us this day our daily bread”), a large antique map of Stuttgart, and dozens of lithographs of buildings and country scenes. I met Evelyne’s husband, Gerd, who is the epitome of a German woodsman: tall and gruff but with an amiable smile and a good sense of humor. The three of us sat in their dining room, sipping macchiatos and munching on homemade nut cake.

Evelyne pulled out several family scrap books and proceeded to walk me through them, relating innumerable family events. This was when I finally figured out the correct spelling of Oda’s name. I also met her son Birk, albeit briefly – a typical, shy 14-year-old skateboarder with a Beatles haircut. (I’m sure they both would be mortified to know that I saw their childhood pictures – Birk dressed as a sumo wrestler, for instance, and Oda all dolled up in an olive green gown for her Abschluss ball, the “graduation” dance at the end of her ballroom dancing course.) Evelyne told me a sad story of how Oda’s dance partner decided to attend the ball with another girl, and Oda could not find a date. She asked several other boys and they were noncommittal. Finally her original partner’s date decided to go with another boy, and Oda’s partner came back to her and asked if she would go with him. Oda wanted to say no, but she really wanted to go to the dance and had no one else to go with, so she agreed, but just this once!

I got to see pictures of Eiko as a puppy and Eiko attending all of his training events; the results of a group hunt with dozens of dead boar and deer lined up in neat rows on the ground, surrounded by the proud hunters and their dogs; a family trip to Berlin (Evelyne’s sister lives near Potsdam); various weddings and family gatherings; and the rustic cabin that they go to in the Schwäbisch Alb for long weekends and hunting trips. This cabin is affiliated with the University of Stuttgart (Evelyne’s husband teachers there) and is used for student retreats. It turns out it is quite close to Burg Teck, where we’ve gone hiking several times.

After a while Evelyne’s husband retired to the back porch to smoke, but not before giving Cody a large strip of smoked boar skin to chew on, with some hair still attached. Evelyne and I moved to the balcony overlooking the garden, where we sipped tea and looked for the goldfish in the pond. It was past noon by this point, so I finally took my leave. What an amazing morning. I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience!

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