Ents are some of the most fascinating characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s universe. Ents are trees with souls, charged with protecting forests from destruction by dwarves and orcs. Fangorn (or Treebeard) is the most famous Ent, making his appearance in The Two Towers and giving protection to Merry and Pippin, two very adventurous Hobbits. Ents looked a great deal like the species of trees they shepherded, and their personality was exactly what you would expect of that type of tree.
Whenever I visit a forest, I look around. Perhaps if you are quiet and wait long enough, you will find the Ents shepherding their trees.
Rose hips (or Rose Haws) are the fruit of the rose that forms following successful pollination after the petals drop. They are definitely edible although the seeds are held inside by tiny hairs that can be irritating if not removed. Fresh, they have been compared to cranberries–tart and very fruity-flavored. They can also be dried or preserved to use at a later time. One method for making rose hip tea is to grind a little powder from the dried hips and steep it in hot water, straining the dregs before drinking. Many countries make their own concoctions from rose hips: nyponsoppa in Sweden, palinka in Hungary, and cockta in Slovenia.
When I went to Germany, I enjoyed the roses which seemed to be present everywhere. I was astounded by the size of the rose hips on some of the plants–I never knew they could be so large! I suspect it is because the newer varieties of roses are chosen for specific weather or disease-resistance. I have long noticed that the older, more “wild” varieties of roses have the best aromas (and probably the most beneficial phytochemicals, as well!).
Historically, there has been a great deal of biodiversity in German cattle. The greatest movement of cattle occurred with trade and migration. Each valley and mountain settlement would have their own bloodlines, specifically chosen to thrive in the climate and forage in their regions. As well, farmers developed beef, dairy and dual-purpose breeds; Germany has very high standards for record-keeping and production. Unfortunately, many of these breeds are endangered or are extinct. There has been an effort to preserve these breeds; the Heck breed was a Nazi effort to restore the extinct aurochs (the last of which died out in Poland in 1627).
When looking at the breed names of cattle (or rinder), they are referred to as rind or vieh. As far as I can understand, the rind would be more specifically a beef breed, where cattle in general are referred to as vieh. Many breeds refer to color–so a red cow is Rotvieh, a brown cow is Braunvieh (specifically the Brown Swiss), and a yellow cow is a Gelbvieh (also common in the U.S.). Fleckvieh are spotted cows. There are also Neider- and Hohen- breeds, or lowland and highland cattle.
These were cows that we saw in the Landwassereck area of the Black Forest in Germany. The pasture was temporary, as the fencing was electric hot wire. The cattle must be frequently handled as they were pretty mellow and didn’t mind my picture-taking. But who could blame them–the view is stunning!
One of the more unique art forms I saw in Munich and Dresden were the pantomimes. This performance art is as old as Ancient Greece; in Medieval Europe there were “mummers” or “dumb shows.” This fall, Dresden hosted the 32nd annual International Mime Festival. Many of the mimes I saw were dressed as statues; some interacted with the audience, while others stood as living statues. Although there wasn’t much movement involved, you could tell that it was physically challenging to control the muscles that carefully for long periods. Even during their rest periods they stay in character. Some mimes look antique with a metallic look. One mime made a statement on modern, busy times.
Decorative stonework at Burg Nanstein, Landstuhl. 2007.
Burg Nanstein, a castle located in Landstuhl, Germany, was built by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1162. This castle was built to protect the western approach to Kaiserslautern, a very old settlement at the edge of the Pfälzerwald (Palatinate forest).
Nanstein castle was also home to the famous German knight Franz von Sickingen. One of the early supporters of the Reformation, Sickingen offered this castle as a shelter for Martin Luther and other reformers after the Diet of Worms.
We visited Burg Nanstein during out 2007 visit to Germany and the Kaiserslautern area. It is a wonderful old castle with an amazing view of Landstuhl. You can see the different eras of building by the varying stones. The growth of ivy and small trees in the walls lends a feeling of ancient decay. This is a great place to visit if you are visiting the Rhineland.
This summer, as part of our LutherTour experience, we had the opportunity to visit the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. It was very fun to experience Christmas in July, I can only imagine how much fun it must be during the winter season.
The Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store first started in when Wilhelm and Käthe Wohlfahrt fled East Germany to escape Communist rule. They took with them a beloved music box that showed the Three Wisemen bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus; it played the hymn “Silent Night.” Several of the Wohlfahrt’s American friends stationed in Germany wished to have those music boxes, and Wilhelm eventually found the wholesaler and started supplying the boxes himself. Eventually, the Wohlfahrts opened their own store, which has expanded to several cities, and includes a workshop, museum and Christmas village.
Bulk ornaments in the ornament cave.
One of the Christmas trees at the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store.
A view of the Käthe Wohlfahrt store in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
One room in the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store that looks like a village.