Germany’s Greatest Gift To The World

As a European transplant to America, I am often asked if I miss my native country. First and foremost, I miss my Dad, his significant other, the rest of my family, and my friends. Staying connected via the Internet or the occasional phone call can, in no way, replace cherished face-to-face time, which happens all too seldom, but at least a connection remains. This was commonly not the case for earlier emigrants who, once they stepped on board the ship that would steam across the Atlantic, were never heard of again. Furthermore, I miss certain places and traditions that have imprinted themselves on my psyche and are associated with an aching sense of nostalgia.

On a lighter note, when we met, my future husband used to tease me about not really being German by birth, as I neither ate meat, nor drank beer, wine, or coffee. He always claimed that I must have been an import. So when American friends wax lyrical about German cuisine and German hops, I can only roll my eyes. I no longer yearn for the typical meals of my childhood, centered around a slab of meat, accompanied by a potato variation, and served with an overcooked, tasteless vegetable slathered in a Fondor-based white sauce (my apologies to all lovers of said dishes).

What I long for instead is German bread. Oval, round, square, or rectangular loaves (not to forget Brötchen). Baked with wheat, buckwheat, rye, barley, spelt, or oat flower. Topped or filled with sunflower, pumpkin, millet, poppy, or flax seeds. With a crunchy crust and a firm yet fluffy core that can neither be lumped into a ball, nor tastes of molasses, or some other sweetener (my apologies to all lovers of American bread). If this sounds like a nightmare for sufferers of gluten-sensitivity, it is a dream for someone who will never embrace a low-carb diet.

Given this somewhat lengthy introduction, it is perhaps relatable that one of my first errands upon my arrival in Frankfurt is a detour to one of the various airport bakeries, followed by many similar errands to similar establishments throughout my sojourn in Germany, be they venerable old-time, locally-owned businesses (those are the best!), supermarket-affiliated chains, or pretzel kiosks at train stations, or in downtown pedestrian zones.

The inimitable, irresistible aroma of freshly baked goods wafting out of a bakery, and the sight of shelves weighed down with myriad shapes and sizes and shades of bread are, for me, the surest signs that I am back in the old country.

Alas, at present, I have to content myself with visual, olfactory, and gustatory fantasies, until our travel plans come to fruition.

Click here for the German version/bitte hier für die deutsche Version klicken:

https://tanjaschimmel.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/deutschlands-gro…henk-an-die-welt/

A Haven In Peril

It was only in May of this year that I made the acquaintance of Cross Creek Regional Park in Fountain, a small town about 10 miles south of our home in Colorado Springs. The park’s main feature is a reservoir with surrounding wetlands, but it also borders on prairie. In an area where this combination of habitats is getting increasingly scarce, it acts as a magnet not only for waterfowl and shorebirds, but also for grassland birds, and a variety of additional species.

The views are lovely. Looking west, water dominates the foreground, a row of multi-hued houses reminiscent of some coastal fishing town line the middle, and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains rules the background, with Pikes Peak presiding over its neighbors. In the east, open meadows still fill the spaces between private lots.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

Even though a well-trodden trail circles the pond, a soccer field and playground occupy one boundary, and houses encroach on the park from multiple directions, it has been the site of many wildlife encounters for me, with feathered friends first and foremost, but not exclusively. As the sky brightens into day, or darkens into night, the dawn and dusk avian chorus swells, in which my favorite Western Meadowlarks not infrequently play the first violin.

There are rumors that major changes are ahead for this vibrant oasis, and while the declared goal is to enlarge the existing body of water to enhance recreation, it is not clear how this will affect the adjacent wetlands, which might be wiped out, at least in the short run. More trails will attract more people, with more dogs, that far too often run off leash and harass wild critters. If boats were allowed on the lake, it would completely change the character of this location. Where would all the animals go that call the pond, the reeds and the sedges, the nearby trees and bushes, the adjacent fields home? I am fearful that we will lose another wildlife refuge to so-called progress and unchecked population growth. I hope my fears will be proven wrong, but a part of me already mourns the possible modifications looming in the future.

Sit And Stay A Spell

Lately, I have come across an abundance of benches.

In letzter Zeit bin ich einer Vielzahl an Bänken begegnet.

…petite benches…

…zierlichen Bänken…

…benches fashioned of various materials and in different shapes…

…Bänken aus den verschiedensten Materialien und in den unterschiedlichsten Formen…

…benches holding little surprises…

…Bänken mit kleinen Überraschungen…

…painted benches…

…bemalten Bänken…

…benches with views, with thoughtful exhortations, with artistic touches…

….Bänken mit Aussichten, mit wohlgemeinten Ermahnungen, mit künstlerischen Werken…

…many of them with plaques, to commemorate a loved one, no longer among the living. As different as their sizes, shapes, and shades, they all have something in common: They are empty. I hardly ever see someone resting on them. We are creatures always on the go, always with a mission, never with enough time to sit and seize the moment. Which is why this last bench, seen at a cemetery, spoke to me so much. While we still can, we should “sit and stay a spell.”

…viele mit Gedänktäfelchen, die an eine geliebte Person erinnern, die nicht mehr unter den Lebenden weilt. So verschieden die Größen, Formen und Farben sind, haben sie doch alle etwas gemein: Sie sind leer. Fast nie ruht sich jemand auf ihnen aus. Wir sind immer unterwegs, immer mit einem Ziel im Auge. Niemals haben wir genug Zeit, einfach zu sitzen, und präsent zu sein. Weshalb mich diese letzte Bank, die ich auf einem Friedhof gesehen habe, besonders angesprochen hat. So lange wir es noch können, sollten wir uns hinsetzen, und etwas verweilen.

Hornbek Homestead

No less striking than the buildings that line the road a few miles south of Colorado’s mountain town Florissant, is the picture of their former owner. Taking into account that photographers in the 19th century asked their subjects not to smile, the portrait of Adeline Hornbek, née Warfield (1833-1905), had always inspired respect, even before I knew about her personal challenges and accomplishments.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

This was no ordinary woman, as her biography attests. Hailing from Massachusetts, she came to Colorado in 1861 with her husband, Simon Harker, and two young children, to seek a cure for his medical ills, presumably tuberculosis. They settled and farmed near the newly-founded Denver, where Adeline became a widow in 1864, not long after the birth of their third child. As a single mother, she raised and provided for her three offspring, purchased her own homestead in 1866, married once again, then bore a fourth child in 1870. Five years later, Elliott Hornbek disappeared, possibly to return to a previous wife back east, whom he had failed to mention to Adeline.

Little is known about the family’s fortunes in the following years, but in 1878, Adeline bought land in the picturesque Florissant Valley, about 35 miles west of Colorado Springs, and became a successful rancher and businesswoman. Instead of a simple dwelling, she commissioned a two-story house from a master craftsman, and added several outbuildings, as well as a root cellar across a meadow, where foodstuffs were kept cool. The proximity of a creek and digging of a well ensured a steady water supply, and the family raised chickens and cattle, and most certainly owned horses for work and transportation. To supplement her income, Adeline worked in the nearby Florissant Mercantile.

The Hornbek parlor was a popular gathering place for friends and neighbors, and Adeline was active on the local school board. At age of 66, she married a third time, Frederick Sticksel, a German immigrant, but did not change her name again. She died at age 72 from probable stroke (“paralysis”).

The Hornbek Homestead was preserved for posterity once the National Park Service acquired the land that is now part of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Adeline’s handsome, restored residence, and several outbuildings that were typical of the era but once stood in different locations, beckon for a visit each time we make the journey up to Florissant. This summer, we first learned about Adeline’s final resting place at Four Mile Cemetery, about five miles from her former home, and paid homage to her by visiting her grave.

Adeline Hornbek, as her photograph suggests, was indeed a formidable woman. Her grit and determination have my full admiration.