Monday, 15 June 2009

Das Schöne Badnerland: Tales from a Nomadic Gelbfuss


Ever since I bought my DSLR, I have become more than slightly obsessed with photographing anything and everything that looks pretty, odd, or is merely typical of the place I'm in. At the moment I seem to be averaging about 175 photographs a day which explains why I'm always out with the camera and never about with the laptop writing in cafés and such.
This weekend was about visiting my grandparents in Ettlingen, a small city that is part of a larger city (this is the easiest way to explain it in English, even if it isn't one hundred percent accurate) called Karlsruhe, not too far from Stuttgart. I used to spend my summers here as a small child, learning the Baden dialect and eating wonderfully delicious German meals. In the last couple of years it's been hard to find the time to come to Ettlingen, a weekend once a year, seven days here, two there,. All of it especially hard when you are trying to see about a million different people from family, to friends, to pets...you get the idea, and it's kind of the story of my life, but still, you do want to please everyone.
This year in Munich has allowed me to do that. Ettlingen is between 2.5 to 3 hours away (depending on how fast you drive, train takes 3 hours) from Munich and thus perfect for a long weekend, or a stop-over on the way home to Paris. It's a great escape. Karlsruhe is a beautiful city, and big enough that it is not provincial by any means. There's good history, great shopping, and beautiful landscapes. And of course in my case, family.
My grandmother has had a garden since before my birth (and for most of my mother's and aunt's lives). As a small child it was a place I played Barbies in. Later I swam in an inflatable pool, read my summer reading books, and anything else that was in English that I had stuffed in my gigantic carry-on or one of two suitcases. Sometimes I planted things, more often I slept, and often I wished that the garden was not nearly so large and so demanding of work and constant watering.
Gradually I see it for what it really is, a place for my Grandmother to get away, relax, work hard and feel rewarded. It is a beautiful place full of years of work and delicious things to eat.
This weekend I picked cherries and peas, collected kohl rabi, lettuce, and chives, and shelled peas with my grandmother in the exact same place where my mother and her sisters used to. If that's not a homecoming, I don't know what is.

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