Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family – Ch07 Part 16

Old Dreams and How the Ems River Adventure Ended

Papa writes, “The Ems is a fascinating little river from a landscape point of view but not like one would envision from reading the river and camping guide. Our trip resembled a rather strenuous exploratory expedition through sparsely populated jungle territories. Numerous weirs – some were not even mentioned in the tour guide – forced us to portage our heavy gear for a 700-metre distance and longer. We were the only long-distance paddlers on the river. That was partly due to the bad weather. At least, we had picked the most tolerable three weeks of this rained-out summer. 

We launched our canoe in Warendorf east of Münster, and broke off the journey at Meppen near the Dutch border. I wanted to move on, but I allowed myself to be guided by the basic principle: Ce que la femme veut, Dieu veut aussi. (What the wife wants, God wants also.) And it was the right decision. The weather, by now, had deteriorated such that stubbornly going on would have ended in disaster.

For Biene, not yet sixteen years old, holding a different notion of a romantic vacation, the River Ems had been a highway of tears. On top of spending a lot of time in the rain, she suffered through unpleasant experiences that her parents strangely found delightful and very nutritious. She painfully recalls one incident when her mother returned from a nearby farm with a pail of milk so recently milked that it was still steaming. For Mama and Papa, it was the ultimate earthly pleasure and a gift from hell for the children.

6 thoughts on “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family – Ch07 Part 16

  1. I’m assuming the kids didn’t like milk. I hate it too, even though I put cream in my coffee, love whipped cream, sour cream, cheese, and ice cream. But milk? So slimy. How can anyone drink it? Go figure.


  2. I can totally relate to Biene’s feelings. At that age most teens would rather do almost anything other than be stuck with their parents and no friends for all that time! And warm, non-homogenized, non-pasteurized milk? No thanks!


  3. That trip sounds difficult for a younger teen. Stuck in a boat with heavy rain, probably not the best of rain gear, it would not be a fun adventure. I can understand her father’s delight because it must have been through beautiful landscape. The hot steamy milk? I vote with Bien and Walter, I would not have liked it either. Never have been a fan of milk.


  4. What a trying adventure for Biene. Parents always try to get their children interested in the same things they themselves are interested in, and not always take their likings into account. The physical condition should most probably also be taken into consideration.
    I was on a camping trip once with my parents and my elder brother at the Edertalsperre, also a very wet summer, raining cats and dogs all the time, so that my father had to get up in the middle of the night to dig a ditch around the tent because the water was coming in. I was a young child then, not a teen, but as a teen I definitely would have hated it. My mother called it off when she spied water rats.


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