Humming Tree

This year seems unusual, weather-wise, too much sun for April-May, too little rain, and the plants grow and are flowering more than ever before, or so it seems. At the moment, our Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain) is pretty amazing and if there is a quiet moment, without wind, cars, or planes, you can hear that the whole tree hums with bumblebees. What a great natural sculpture!

      goldregen


 
Postscript: our wonderful Golden Rain tree eventually was killed by voles – apparently the roots were tasting too good, and I could pull the big plant out of the soil with one hand.

Yellow Snow

Fresh 5th December snow near our house, late evening. It had finally stopped snowing, thank god. We had done two shovelling sessions on this Sunday and my shoulders were hurting.

When I got out to take a look with the camera, the bushes and trees had turned into surrealist sculptures, lit up by the yellow street lamp. It was totally silent.


 
Dreamed I was an eskimo
Frozen wind began to blow
Under my boots and around my toes
The frost that bit the ground below
It was a hundred degrees below zero…

And my mama cried
And my mama cried
Nanook, a-no-no
Nanook, a-no-no
Don’t be a naughty eskimo
Save your money, don’t go to the show

Well I turned around and I said oh, oh oh
Well I turned around and I said oh, oh oh
Well I turned around and I said ho, ho
And the northern lights commenced to glow
And she said, with a tear in her eye
Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow
Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow


(Frank Zappa)

Lion Tooth Morning


 
On this quiet sunny 1st of May morning, before breakfast, I took a long walk alone (Sabine is away in Brussels, seeing an old girlfriend). It is a holiday and people are still asleep – many have spent an extended evening partying, drinking lots of beer, and stealing birches. They have a
strange custom here in Germany, and I think especially here in the Rhine area – young men gather to cut birch trees, decorate them with colorful ribbons, and set them up in front of the houses of young women; part of the fun is that other young men try to steal these birch trees in the night.









 
The meadows were colored bright yellow with millions of dandelions (called “Lion’s Teeth” here for some reason), interspersed with the subtle pink of cuckoo flowers … and all the birds were singing.

At one point, a song thrush sang its loud and exquisite song very near to me for a minute or two. I love those thrush songs a lot (as readers of this blog might remember) – they are somewhat similar to nightingale songs but they use more repetitions, so for most of the complex fast short patterns they sing, there is a good chance to hear them several times.

Listening to a song thrush from so near was quite an experience. The beauty was a bit overwhelming – it seemed to blast through my heart like a very loud and uplifting rock concert.







 
How wonderful to be able to walk through this beauty, to feel the touch of the sacred … then my path led me into the village again and there was something even more overwhelming: the smell of fresh coffee coming from the houses where people were getting up … oh yes: breakfast!!!

Blue Volume

The birds outside my window on Monday morning, 5:30 am.

      Biesfeldbirdscape_20090504_0530

 
“Er ist’s” by Eduard Mörike is the German romantic spring poem – every German knows it.

Frühling lässt sein blaues Band
Wieder flattern durch die Lüfte;
Süße, wohlbekannte Düfte
Streifen ahnungsvoll das Land.
Veilchen träumen schon,
Wollen balde kommen.
— Horch, von fern ein leiser Harfenton!
Frühling, ja du bist’s!
Dich hab’ ich vernommen!


Here’s a modern automatic Babelfish translation:

1. German>English

Spring lets blue volume be again to flutter by air Sweet, well-known smells Strip notionful the country Violets dream already, Wools balde come Horch, from a distance a quiet harp clay/tone! Spring, you bist’ s! You I heard!


 
2. German>English>German>English

Spring leaves blue volume, on the airway, which is sweet, to that far away admitted notionful smell strip already to flutter again its countries violet dream, wools, which come balde Horch, from a distance a calm harp loam/clay/tone! Spring, it bist’ s! It, which I heard!


 
3. German>English>German>English>German>English

Spring leaves which is sweet, far certified notionful smell strips, over again from a distance to already flutter its countries violet dream, wools, which come balde Horch, to blue volume, on the airline, a calm harp loam/loam/clay/tone! Spring, it bist’ s! It, which I heard!


 
Babelfish has a number of semantic problems. “Band” means “ribbon”, not “volume” in this context. “Wools” is Babelfish’s sad attempt to translate the perfectly usual “wollen” which means “want”. “Balde” means “soon” and “Horch” is a somewhat oldfashioned way to say “listen”.

Here’s a manual translation by Bertram Kottmann that is a bit more poetic.



(Incidentally, the guitarist on this photo is called Robert. I wonder why?)


 
My office this morning. Usually I sit behind these windows, trying to earn some money. Can you imagine that it is difficult to sit inside and work while all the action is outside and the flowers wait to be photographed?

Day Of The Flock


 
A flock of sheep is no common sight here in this part of Germany. Once a year though, at this time of the year, the meadows of our countryside are visited by a flock – it usually consists of 200 or 300 animals, some of them still very young. They stay at one place just for an hour or two, then they follow the call of their shepherd and the barking of their herding dog which keeps them together, and move on over to the next hill. When we saw them on the meadow right opposite our house today, we had to go out and visit them. It was a heartwarming experience – good on a cold, grey, and wet day – to be with these animals, watch them, and listen to them.

Listen to a 25 minute recording of the day of the flock (at 13:00, a sheep sniffs at my recorder to see if it smells like something to eat) (it didn’t).

      sheepscape_biesfeld_20090315
 








… and now for something completely different:

A Thousand Blended Notes

For those unfortunate souls who don’t live in the countryside such as this, I recorded the walk I took today – click the player and you will hear half an hour of my steps in the muddy forest, stopping now and then to listen to the first spring birdsongs. The most prominent bird one could hear today is the song thrush … their song is one of the most beautiful things I can imagine.

      pre_spring_walk_biesfeld_20090308

People who grew up musically in the late sixties (such as me) might be reminded of Pink Floyd’s wonderful song Cirrus Minor which contains lots of song thrush singing … that bird must have been recorded somewhere in England, at this time of the year, 40 years ago.











 
This walk reminded me of Wordsworth’s poem in more than one way. Well he lamented “what man has made of man” … I only was somewhat put off by the incessant loud shouting of a group of kids who played right in the dense middle of the forest, the only place where the deer can hide during the day. Oh well. But then, they didn’t know … and of course, they are a part of nature too, no less than the birds and deer are.