the German group who came to the U.S. for the same horse event The Yard Man attended last week.
Carla and Erhard have traveled to this event when it was held in previous years, and we learned to know them and have a great time visiting with them. Erhard publishes a German magazine, Starke Pferde, that focuses on draft horses and draft horse equipment, and Carla raises sheep and oversees the butchering and sale of the meat. She told me that she currently has approximately 100 sheep. Later she revised this figure to 250 (I almost fell off my chair! Reader Dear, that's a lot of ovine, wouldn't you agree?)
Now, when I can get around to it, I'm going to tell you three things I learned from Carla and Erhard regarding German customs.
Right now I've got to go back in time and take you with me to the state (wine and liquor) store, Dear Reader. "We will be entertaining guests from Germany," I explained to a store employee. "Can you help me find a good dry red, and also a German wine?"
"I'm just the one to ask!" he crowed. "I grew up in Germany myself!" He briskly led me back through the aisles, and then he pointed to several green bottles on a lower shelf. "This is Maywine," he said. "This is made in Germany, but only in May. They only produce it, only drink it in May! This one you should get. This will be a good one!"
I bought a bottle.
now it's a lovely evening, and The Yard Man and I are sitting on the deck with our guests. We are drinking the Maywine as the full moon rises over Erhard's shoulder.
Erhard has inspected the label on the bottle, and verified that Germans drink this wine on May Day. It is when they have celebrations. It is when they have the May tree ("We call it a pole," I say). He tells us, in fact, that the custom of celebrating May Day originated in Germany.
("Ha. I didn't know that! As a twelve-year-old, I got to dance around the May Pole at school, along with seven other girls." I tell Erhard and Carla. "I wore a mint-green skirt, and carried a mint-green streamer. I felt so special, and it was fun; but I didn't know I had Germany to thank!")
1. Erhard further explains that there is a May Day custom in Germany whereby a young man, if he has a lady-love, will bring a small birch tree and secretly place it on the roof of the house where she lives. (Oh, I do so hope that I am relaying these details correctly. Please forgive me if you know it to be otherwise, Reader Dear! I urged Erhard himself to tell it to the camera, but he was afraid everyone would laugh [we laughed, though his English is excellent!])
2. In the morning, our guests were somewhat pressed for time, as they needed to pick up their fellow travelers at other locations, and ultimately catch their flight back to Germany. We served them cereal and fresh blueberries for breakfast, and Carla added oatmeal flakes she had carried with her. It was simply raw rolled oats.
"What?" I asked. "You eat your oatmeal uncooked?"
"Yes," she responded. "This is how we Germans eat it. We are not accustomed to cooking our oats."
"Strange," I said. What I meant by that was 'fascinating'! (I ate some raw oats. "Not bad," I said. "I could eat them.")
3. "Not bad" is a compliment in Germany. So is, "I can eat it."
These facts Erhard told me when eating at Melvin and Esther's house. The German language is not romantic, he said. They state things simply as they are, don't go overboard with words like fantastic, terrific!* I tried to explain, between fits of laughter, how hostesses in this country would react to this kind of compliment.
*(When Melvin heard this discussion, he mused on the fact that Amish use a similar type of speech. He was searching for words to describe it, and I suggested that their speech is not flowery. "Exactly!" he exclaimed. "That is a very good way to describe it! We do not use 'flowery' speech."
He said to me, "That is a very good word--'flowery'! I will be using that word again!" [He seemed very pleased by the word. It seemed to me, he could have easily slipped into floweriness in his delight over 'flowery'!])