Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

It's probably appropriate that I start blogging again on May Day. Although I'd like to be contrary and call it Walpurgis Day, after the German pre-Christian holiday of Walpurgis Nacht, celebrated the night before. In our little town in the 21st century, Walpurgis Nacht has been reduced to toilet papering the trees surrounding the BMX track in our neighborhood, but it's nice to know someone remembered to mark its passing.

I only know Walpurgis Nacht from the famous German children's book "Die Kleine Hexe" written by Otfried Preussler in the 1970s. "We" all grow up with it the same way we grow up with his stories about the littel ghost, the little waterman and "Der Rauber Hotzenplotz." That last one's kind of scary, especially the 21st century screen adaption. In German of course; it's a cultural phenomenon but it's no Disney.

The witches dance on Walpurgis Nacht, a throwback to pre-Christian pagan religions.

May Day, or Beltane in Gaelic, celebrates the beginning of summer.

So, here I am, back on my broom for summer.

I actually did try to take the family to the pool this morning. The outdoor pool. Yes, it WAS a bit chilly, AND the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms but... it seems I just can't fight my own nature. The American beach-goer in me was screaming that it was MAY, goddamn it, and time for picnics and pools. The German in me was thinking, well, since we're getting a season pass anyway we might as well make the most of it. My Dad would be so proud.

Since Damon and I were unable to hoist the kids over the locked iron gates and the water still looked slightly green - and partially frozen - we decided to eat our brotchen and play baseball in a little meadow in some nearby woods. The kids were in bathing suits, and it was COLD, but we made due with beach towels across our legs and shoulders. SUCK IT UP KIDS, THIS IS FUN!

What we hadn't counted on was the German Red Cross setting up tents and tables for a May Fest. At 10 AM Damon came back from the concession stand with a big mug of beer, telling me that they hadn't gotten the coffee machine going yet.

You gotta like that in a people.

By noon the meadow was filled with kids playing soccer around our baseball match, and somberly dressed people eating Maultaschen and Wurst. It was just so quaint, so out of a history lesson, so very very....well, German. Although if I never see another Maultasche again as long as I live, it will be too soon. (It's a southern Swabian thing. Íf you want REAL meat, go to Bayern!)

Around noon the heavens opened up, the way they invariably do here. In other countries, the sun shines, I swear to it just rains.

But once again my heart swelled with love and pride as I watched my dark, soberly dressed, beer-swilling and Maultaschen eating country-men and women simply whip open their dark-colored umbrellas and keep right on going.

It was like a scene out of Mary Poppins.

April was a tough one for me, in case you were wondering. Andrew turned 8 on April 1 and I celebrated that with what I assumed were anxiety attacks brought on by some medication my poor therapist has been dying for me to try for YEARS now. And since I'd managed NOT to get knocked up for almost five months now, it seemed a good idea to listen to her. Until I couldn't breathe. So I stopped the meds - decided to wing it without thyroid meds too - and celebrated MY birthday on April 10 on my hands and knees in a hotel bathroom at Europa Park trying to force air into my lungs. Turns out I need thyroid meds.

Then I left Aidan alone in front of the desktop watching You Tube. For two minutes while I helped Matthew in the bathroom. And came back to find the screen blank. Aidan explained that the noise was too loud and that he'd pushed a button or two to remedy that situation.

It's taken over three weeks for Damon to hound the computer repair guys into fixing the thing. Although I don't think they bothered looking too hard since it ends up being the power supply. In the USA they would have fixed it the same afternoon it came in. Socialism. I am honestly swinging way to the right here, something I am not going to be able to forgive this country for.

Although they are only charging us 50 Euros for what a capitalist country probably would have charged us hundreds for.

And I have had to learn to access the Internet on my Netbook.

Growth is so painful.

But at least some things never change.

All over Germany, or at least here in Swabenland, people are out in the village squares eating Maultaschen and Wurst, drinking beer, and putting up the May Pole. All under cover of rain.

If the winds of change ever do hit this tiny little region of the world, there's going to be a lot of broken umbrellas!

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