Friday, December 9, 2011

Irsch in Winter

This is a very broad translation of a bit of the poetry of Ernst Thrasolt. In his "Winter" he finds God's blessing in the cold, short days of the season. The poet says:

In the winter, 
there is rest for man and horse and cow, 
a rest which is scarce
in other seasons. 
Now all can sit in the warmth from the hearth,
sleep peacefully during the long nights, 
and rebuild their strength. 
Praise the Lord God above.

The beautiful pictures of Irsch, covered with snow, are from the website for the Village of Irsch bei Saar.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Forest Begins Its Time of Rest

Poor are they,
   they who go with empty hearts!
How many blessings are brought to them
   in the cold of the earth... 
from "Wer Noch Staunen Kann" by Otto Gillen

Photos by Josiane

Monday, October 24, 2011

Imagine How It Was - Zerf/Oberzerf

These photos are from Zerf and Oberzerf and were taken from 2001 to 2004.  None of us can step back in time to see the villages and the fields exactly as they were in the first half of the 19th century - except with our imaginations.  But today Mother Earth still produces the trees and grasses, insects and birds that flourished in the earlier times as well as the streams that helped sustain them.

Oberzef in spring
Fishing in the Mühlenbach
The old mill stone of Zerf
Zerf Pasture

Autumn in the  Zerf Hochwald

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn's Treasures

Josiane loves the autumn as much as I do, and she wrote this when she sent some photos she took on a forest walk, showing the Saarburg region at the start of her favorite season:

"The weather is a gem.   Autumn is here with its cool misty mornings, pale light during the day, beautiful sunsets, early nights and late daylights.  The leaves start to change colour here and there, and it is lovely in the sunlight; plenty of walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts to be gathered along the walks.  Sometimes (there are) apples from the open orchards -  I shouldn't,  but just to have a bite is so tempting!"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Grape Harvest in Saarburg

September - when the vines are heavy with the green grapes that will all be harvested by the end of October.  It's a delight to walk the streets of Saarburg, where grape vines are as common as shrubs and fall flowers in other cities.  If you are lucky, you may have a chance to watch the grapes being harvested.  If you are very lucky, you may have a chance to enjoy tasting the new wine.  And if you are near Saarburg or are lucky enough to go there for a holiday in early September, you may even taste the wines of the area at the regional wine festival held there.  Hold out your glass during the parade to sample each wine village's finest.   You can cheer on the wine princesses, one of whom will be crowned the wine princess of the region.  Then drink a toast to a Roman in a toga, or partake of a wine served by a couple of jaunty fellows in panama hats. 

Walking along the street in Saarburg

The grapes are ready to be picked

This vineyard is around the corner from a main street in Saarburg

My vacation apartment's owners planted a few grapes of their own

Wine tasting in an Irsch wine cellar

The Serrig website captured all the events of the Saarburg regional Weinfest

The Roman legions brought grape vines to their outposts along the Saar and Mosel

Every wine village has a princess and the one in red was crowned the 2011 wine princess of the region

Friday, September 2, 2011

Forest Changes in August and September

Spring, summer, autumn - how quickly the seasons change in the Saar region.  Our ancestors, at work in the forest lands, had little time to admire the metamorphosis.  Too much to be done!  How lucky are we, their descendants, who can stroll the woodlands observing the transformations from week to week.


Bright red beauty of viburnum 

Little red priests' hats 

Heather here and there

Green holly

Acorns form on the oak tree

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Village Structures that Hint of the Past

Photos by Kathy

An excursion with camera through Ockfen, Oberzerf, Irsch, and Beurig highlights a few of the old buildings.  Some hide their simple underpinnings, others show the original walls with the miscellaneous materials, mostly very poor, which kept the structures together until this day.

Ockfen farm building

Oberzerf wall to wall

Outskirts of Irsch

Variety of materials in this old Irsch building  

Barn door in Beurig, constructed in1833

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Foraging Days in the Forest

Photos by Josiane and Wikipedia Commons

Not only the woodland creatures and the domestic cattle found the summer satisfying to their stomachs.  Mid-July must have been a time when, for our ancestors, work blended with pleasure.  There was treasure to find in the woodlands around Irsch, Oberzerf, Serrig and the other villages where forest land had now developed several layers of plants.  Some special plants clung close to the ground, bending at knee level, some standing tall as if proud of their ability to produce, from their June flowers, delicious fruit.  A walk here meant eyes up, down, and all around.

A special find for any child was the bright, round berries.  Children in Kreis Saarburg would discover that some fruits and berries tasted delicious.  Other fruits might be distasteful, or perhaps deadly.  Safety when picking or eating berries was a thing that had to be learned.  When parents could be watchful, a child learned which berries were a treasure and which a danger.  But parents were not always with their children.  The fruits and berries in these photos are all eye-catching.  But which can be plucked and eaten right from the tree or bush?

Wild honeysuckle berries are slightly sweet but mostly seeds.  The seeds should be approached with caution as they may cause a bad reaction in some people 

Sorbus is commonly called  European Rowan or Mountain Ash.  While the fruit is quite bitter, it is high in Vitamin C.  It can be used to make a distinctive jam or flavor drinks.  Rowan jelly is often served with game and venison.

Bryonia has a berry that is poisonous, even fatally poisonous is some varieties

Bittersweet makes a nice decoration but the red fruit is poisonous

European Spindle (which turns a lovely pink color later in the late summer) is also dangerously poisonous.  Its wood is very hard and in the past was used to make spindles, hence its name

Wild blackberries are safe to eat and delicious 

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's June Near the River Saar

Spring has given way to early summer in the fields and forests of the Alte Heimat.  The early flowers have gone into hiding until next year and their slower cousins - the poppies, the mullein - have sprung up to show off their bolder blooms.  Nature lovers, who choose to walk where nature changes something every day, would certainly agree with Jean-Jacque Rousseau, who said, 

"The wandering life is what I like 
to journey on foot, unhurried, in fine weather and in fine country 
and to have something pleasant to look forward to at my goal, 
that is of all ways of life the one that suits me best."

Photos by Josiane

The field of yellow rape has already turned color on its way to harvest

A small field maple has struggled up through the grasses with the intent of becoming a splendid tree

The first poppies wave whenever there is a breeze

Mullein's first buds have opened

Look carefully and find the strawberries

Blue chicory joins the forest palette