Today we took the car and drove 18k to Thüngersheim, the village of Beate’s parents, where she grew up.
She described it as a typical Franconian village of this area, not the prettiest. It had an old center with St. Michael’s church at its heart inside a village ‘wall’ that was composed of the village houses. Lots of old half-timbered buildings with steep tile roofs. Surrounding this is a much newer suburb of houses built from the 1940/50s with a wave of building in the 70s and a number in the last 10 years. We stopped first at the cemetery where all of the stones are huge and have recent dates, but Beate says the family plots are actually quite deep with several generations below. Both of her parents who died in the last couple of years are buried here.
We then left town to climb up to a ridge that that looped around through forests and fields past the ruins of a mountain stronghold where Main River Pirates once stashed their loot, past plots of forest that were owned by her father, vineyards owned by her father that she helped plant 30 years ago. At the crest of a hill with a small forest on one side of the road, with her family vineyards on the other is a small storage hut with a porch owned by her family. At one time her grandmother had a garden here. Now the forest is a protected area and gardens are not allowed. No new buildings can be built, but the hut with its fantastic view over the steep vineyards can be maintained.
We hurried down the hill to get to the restaurant in town before it closed at two. We thought we were too late, but actually we were a little too early to eat at the tables set up in front of St. Michaels church as the church was celebrating St. Michaels day, which brought back memories of the San Miguel festival at Navarette.
The restaurant menu offered pfefferling soup. I recognized the name of one of the types of mushrooms we saw being picked in Poland. It was that, a ‘field greens’ (feldsalat) salad, and a plate of venison with quince for lunch. We got the ‘klein’ portion, but even so I was stuffed.
Beate had invited some friends over at 5:00 for dinner and we still had to prepare the onion and plum tarts, so we did not hang around after lunch beyond visiting her parents house. A farmhouse with a barn and barnyard inside the town. Her father went from here to work in his fields each day. I enjoyed the town, the walk and the meal, and the visit to her home.
We got to her apartment in time to get the onions and plums chopped just as Beate’s guests arrived. They were Tina and Andreas and their daughters Marie and Josephine, and Michael and Barbara with their daughter Pippa. I liked them immediately.
All except for Josephine who is in third grade and just started English spoke English very well. The ‘To market, to market’ book by Nikki McClure was sitting on the table and Josephine could translate quite a bit of it. Really wish we offered the same to our children in the US. Josephine finally got enough nerve to ask me some questions – what was my hobbies, where was I born, but I don’t think walking was a very interesting answer to the former. Pippa and Marie are just Jillian’s age and I wished she could have been here. Fortunately not all of the evening was in English. Even though I could understand virtually nothing, it felt comfortable and reminded me I was not in the US.
In addition to Beate’s tarts she had filled a couple of plastic bottles with neuwine, a fermented cross between juice and wine, sweet and slightly fizzy. Barbara also brought an onion tart and a bottle of fresh pressed apple juice made from apples from their tree. Tina brought a kettle of pumpkin soup.
It was a nice day and a nice evening.