Monday, May 30, 2011

A Mausoleum for Blind King John

After writing about the creation of a monument to Blind King John of Bohemia, I thought I understood the pomp and circumstance that had transferred his mortal remains from Mettlach to Kastel, across the Saar River from Serrig.  I wrote about it in my book.  Than, in 2004, I had a chance to take another look - a good look.  Now I understood why it took ten young men who alternated the carrying of a small box containing King John's bones from the Saar River to the magnificent mausoleum that had been built to house them.  The bluff was magnificent in autumn and much higher than I had imagined.  See for yourself.

The Klause rests high above the Saar River

The rock ledge near the Klause looking toward the small church at Taben Rodt 

A side view of the Klause Mausoleum

The windows are an architectural artwork

The sarcophagus without King John's bones, which are now in Luxembourg

Looking down from the Klause to the Saar and the village of Serrig

Steep vineyards below the Klause

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Forest flowers in Mid-May

What a variety of flowering plants spring up in the forests of my Heimatland. Josiane has sent her latest offering. Each one shows a beauty that often goes unnoticed. One flower in particular has a well-known fairy tale connection.

According to legend, it was the plant "Phyteuma spicatum" that led, in the classic German fairy tale, to Rapunzel's imprisonment. It was the obsession of Rapunzel's mother-to-be with the rampions in the garden of an old enchantress that led her husband to steal some spikes of the plant. His wife made them into a salad and asked her husband to bring more. Eventually he came face to face with the old enchantress who made a bargain with the couple. They would be spared her punishing wrath, but the unborn child would be taken by the enchantress. So at the age of 12 years, Rapunzel was locked in a tower and we all know the rest of the story. In Germany this plant is called Rapunseln, in English speaking countries it is called a spiked rampion.

Wild Rose called a Heckenrose in German

Honeysuckle known as Geißblatt in Germany

Oxeye Daisies
Cephalanthera Also Known as Helleborine
Trees Surrounded by Spring Flowers
"Flowers" of the Maple Tree
Horse Chestnut Tree Flowers

Blue-Spiked Rampion Also Known As Rapunzel

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Fields of Oberzerf

Oberzerf is the birthplace of my great-great grandmother, today a village not much bigger than it was at the end of 1827 when she was born there.  It is about 8 miles from the city of Saarburg and 5 and one half miles from Irsch, the village of the man she would marry.  Thick forest land lies to the east and south, mostly out of my camera range as we drove along the highway.  Coming into town, there is a flowing stream and a small church, almost a chapel, at the top of a little hill.  The church built in the 1950s, the paved highway, and the automobiles parked here and there - these are a minor distraction from the setting of a village that is more than 1,000 years old.

Thickets still separate the tillable land.

The fields at the end of the harvest time

Catching a glimpse of the forest

The water of the Grossbach stream once powered the village mill

The main road to the small Catholic church

A remodeled barn house on the Hauptstrasse dates from 1848

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Already it is Green Behind the Fence." Poet Ernst Thrasolt

In late spring, the forest land is a place of color and growth as more and more plants struggle out from winter rest into the sunlight and vegetation becomes lush and tall.  The pictures that follow remind me of the lines by the poet, Ernst Thrasolt, who lived in Beurig, across the Saar from Saarburg and only a little over a mile from Irsch.  He simply called his poem "Spring" and wrote "Already it is green behind the fence and soon also im the meadow..."  Josiane has been out taking more pictures as she walks and has shared her knowledge and thoughts about them, backing up Thrasolt's lines about the coming of the spring season.

One of the first aquilegia (columbines) of the year

beauties on the old wall

Chelidonia on the old wall ; the juice treats warts

First Flowers of the Broom Shrubbery 

Daphne has its fruit

Wild daisies known as Gänseblümchen - used for children's flower crowns

Orchids in the grass

Ernst Thrasolt, "Already it is green behind the fence and soon also im the meadow..."