Today I start with a recreational theme on hiking. There are many wonderful hiking trails in and around Fauquier that are waiting to be discovered. Also there is no better time to explore the awakening of spring than by a walk through the woods along the rushing waters of a creek. Even if one was blind and could not see the beauty, the fresh aromatic air swirling about one’s face and the melt waters thundering at a distance would be enough to make you feel in tune with Mother Nature.
This afternoon after a heavy rain during the night the sun was shining brightly. So Biene (Gertrud) and I felt like driving down on Applegrove Road to our favorite spot at Taite Creek. We were lucky. We had the lake, the beach, and the campground all to ourselves. After our customary game of boccia and some home-made cake and coffee, which I brewed on our camp stove, I went for a hike, while Biene enjoyed the peace and quiet in the warm sun to do some knitting.
More than ten years ago a sports-minded father created with axe and chainsaw a challenging dirt bike trail for his teenage son. We discovered it by chance and since it had been abandoned by father and son it turned out to be one of our favorite hiking trails.
For the first 500 m it runs parallel to the lake until it reaches the mouth of Taite Creek. Then turning left it follows the creek for about one km before it moves away into dense forest. Old overgrown logging roads crisscross the area creating a veritable maze where you could get easily lost. Luckily the boy’s father had carefully marked the path by tying yellow ribbons onto tree branches. Near the end the trail changes direction and crosses an old growth forest area, where in the fall I find some of the choicest mushrooms for our dinner table.
Everything except for the trail is wild around here. This is perfect wilderness and nature at its best. One must often climb over a tree trunk that a violent storm had blown over across the path. Canada geese nest near the lake. The air is filled with the high-pitched voices of the osprey. And if you are lucky, you might see the king among the birds of prey, the bald eagle, soaring high above in the sky.
The trail ends at the bridge on Applegrove Road. If you are ambitious and don’t want to return to camp by the same route, you can extend your beautiful walk a little by turning it into a full circle tour. From the bridge you walk a few hundred meters in the direction of Fauquier, until you see the campground access road, which will lead you back where you started. There will be more posts on hiking trails in the near future on this blog.
Succulent Peaches and Playful Friendship with a French Girl
The yard around the house at Maria-Theresia-Str. 4 was beautiful indeed. A hedge completely surrounded the property except for the iron wrought gate near the main entrance of the house. Various fruit trees decorated a good part of the yard, and the peaches were reaching full maturity. There was nobody who expressly told me not to eat them. I ate them, because they were there and because they tasted delicious. With each new bite the juice was squirting into my face and running down on each side of my mouth. My taste buds were so delighted that I overindulged in the pleasure of eating the succulent fruits, until my stomach began to grumble and was sending warning messages, which I chose to ignore. Too late! At first I barely made it up the two flights of stairs to get to the bathroom on time. Then the visceral revolt became too strong, I ran behind a bush to relieve myself. A woman from a next-door balcony watched in horror the revolting sight and rushed over to complain to my aunt, “This boy did not have the decency to go to the washroom and he disgusted himself on the lawn.” This was the way she described it in her excessive sensibility regarding bodily functions with that the rare German expression ‘Er hat sich verekelt.’
On the ground floor lived a high-ranking officer of the French occupation forces with his wife and a daughter, who was about my age. She often came out on the yard to play with me. There was no language barrier. We played all the simple games we had learned in school that required no or very little equipment, such as hopscotch, throwing pebbles into a circle, hide-and-go-seek, etc. Prejudices of our two different nationalities did not exist in our young hearts. The extent of my French vocabulary after three months of instruction was still under one hundred. However, under the tutelage of this vivacious little girl bubbling over with words and gestures my stock of words grew by leaps and bounds. When I made my first attempt to use some of the new phrases I had learned from her, she giggled goodnaturedly over my enthusiastic effort to communicate in her mother tongue. I have very fond memories of my summer holidays in Freiburg, and they will remain as one of the pleasant highlights of my childhood years in Southern Germany.
Upon my return to Messkirch things were looking up for awhile. My homeroom teacher Fräulein Welte was quite pleased with my sudden interest in French and with the general improvement in the other subjects as well. My more positive attitude was in part prompted by the so-called ‘blue’ letter. It was sent home to inform parents about their child’s poor performance in school. Now I was no longer in danger of failing the grade. Also there was a more pleasant atmosphere at the Stoll family. They must have enjoyed the break from having to deal with me during the summer holidays. The focus was now on the upcoming joyful event. For the baby was due in less than two weeks.