The Black Forest

Originally published 27 November 2010.

Guten Morgen–Good morning! I hope you’ve all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and you are not uncomfortably full two days later. =)

Monday was… a Deutschland (Germany) adventure! I was still at Holger and Francie Kock’s home, and I thought it would be cool to go to Germany with them, since Holger is from Northern Germany. We ate breakfast together (the kids had already left for school), which consisted of the typical European breakfast of Brött (bread) with jelly and hönig (honey), cheese (their brie is unbelievably delicious! And I don’t even really like cheese!), jogurt (yogurt), fruit, and coffee! And when we finished breakfast we headed out to the famous Black Forest (like the German Chocolate Black Forest cake, of course). According to German tradition, Santa comes from the Black Forest. He makes toys there, and he takes the naughty children there and hides them! Ah! I tried to behave extra ”gut” (good) while I was there!

If you’re wondering (as I was also wondering) where the Black Forest got its name, here’s the story!

”Long ago when the Romans came through and ruled the land here, they used all the trees until there were none left. So when they replanted, they chose evergreens, which are the fastest growing species of tree. These dark green trees are so dense that, especially in summer, NO light gets through–making it very dark! The forest is 100 km wide and 180 km long (about 60 x 110 miles), and if someone got lost there, they were a goner!” Now, there are villages and Catholic cathedrals there, and of course there are many hotels, spas, and ski resorts here. And not surprisingly, the logging industry is a pretty big deal there. 😉

And that’s the story of the black forest! Another interesting tid bit of info from Whit–the houses in the Black Forest are mostly made of wood and are beautiful. They’re intricately carved and decorated and just really huge, and their roofs are characteristically oversized. Why, you may wonder? Because when it snows and gets so very cold there, the snow acts as added insulation. The larger your roof, the more insulated your house is. =)

And then we went home for lunch! I like the system they have here at the schools. The kids go to class in the morning, and they all pretty much live close enough to come home at lunch, then be back in time for afternoon classes. Holger and Francie like this, too, because since they can have lunch with their kids, they can also keep up with how they’re doing throughout the day. I like it because that makes for a much healthier family situation as opposed to the kids being at school all day and only seeing the parents when they get up and before bed. Consistently having family meal time is good for lots of reasons, and to be able to have it at each meal ist wunderbar (is wonderful)!

That afternoon, we got to relax! I talked with Francie and Holger and caught up on my journal writing for a while, then I took a fabulous nap! =) Luckily Francie came in to wake me up a little before 3:00… I dreamt during said nap that I slept until 8:50 that night, not only missing a good part of the day, but I also couldn’t sleep that night! That was more of a nightmare than a dream. =)

But as I said, Francie came and woke me up. It was time to head to the historical countryside of Arlesheim! We walked passed the cutest little houses–some older than all of America as a nation! People actually still live in them, too. So cute! Water power is a big deal here, and they use the creeks around to grind millstones and work on their farms. We came upon this garden that was really a manmade mountain park area. There is a story about a hermit who lives in a shack up there, and children cam go visit him! When you put a coin in his hand, he moves and stuff–obviously, kids of every nationality are easily amused and enjoy a good robot! 😉

The little mountain is so pretty, and it’s in a lovely place overlooking the village of Arlesheim. And guess what… there’s also a CASTLE next to it! It’s a real one with a tower and made of stone and it sits on a hill and everything. I kept waiting for Rapunzel to let down her hair!

We walked around the little manmade lakes there and watched the ducks and fish swim around. It was overcast and cool-ish, but we were warm enough. =) Francie and I walked around Arlesheim as the sun was going down (around 4:45 pm around here right now), and I have to say I absolutely felt like I was in a fairytale! Cobblestone streets, cute little houses, it’s great!

Then came my favorite thing about going to a foreign country… a trip to the grocery! We got some things to use for supper–an authentic German meal to top off the day, complete with Black Forest Cake!

Funny story… while supper was cooking, Francie was helping Hendrick (their 7th grade son) with his French homework. I was sitting across the room writing in my journal or reading or something, and suddenly Francie wanted to tell me something. I heard her speak and I knew she was talking to me, but I had no idea what she said! I thought I’d done something wrong because she sounded urgent, and we just looked at each other funny. She turned to Hendrick and asked why I was giving her a puzzled look, and then she realized she had spoken in French! That’s the downside of speaking so many languages… they get mixed up in the brain often! haha. That happened frequently on my trip here. People would get languages mixed up talking to each other and translating for me and switching languages in the conversation–wow! We laughed about that for a while. =)

And for supper, we had Knödel (a bread and potato dumpling as big as my fist!), ”blue” cabbage (the purple stuff we Americans call red cabbage), smoked pork, and brown sauce–and of course, the Black Forest cake! Chocolate, chocolate mousse, cherry filling, and whipped cream. Wow! Simona came over, too. This church is really like a family. They are absolutely there for each other, and they honestly love each other as a Christian family should. It’s such an encouragement to me.

After a long talk with Simona and Francie, it was time for bed for sure! Coming up for Tuesday… lunch at the Nägelis’ house, playing games with their daughters, and spending the night next door to a castle! Stay tuned. =)


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