Sunday, June 22, 2008

In the Beginning

Gruess Gott!

In southern Germany and Austria, local people will greet you with these words. If you say "Gruess Gott" in return, you may not be local bred, but people will know you’re working on your qualifications! I’ve been working on mine since 1971, when I first set foot in Germany. On 2 September 1971, I arrived in Bavaria to spend my junior year at the University of Munich. I was smitten and spent 32 years scheming up ways to get back here on a permanent basis. Now I split my year between Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a small town in Bavaria's Alps about an hour south of Munich, and Washington, DC, a large town not far from the Chesapeake Bay. Both towns have distinctive flavors, special celebrations, and lots of good food, to say nothing about the beer and wine! So join me as I move through the year and let me introduce you to my two home towns! Food and culture are my main interests, so I’ll spend plenty of time on those topics, but there is so much else, that I’m sure I’ll range far afield.

Right now, I am in Garmisch. I migrated back here in late May, while the lilacs were still in bloom, huge puffs of them filling the morning air with sweet fragrance. The sky was clear and sunny, it was warm. That was for the first few days. Since then, it’s turned gray, clouds have shrouded the mountains, and rain has been a constant guest. And according to weather reports, it will remain with us for at least the next three weeks. What would Ben Franklin, with his proverb about guests and fish stinking after three days, have to say about our lingering weather? Despite the less-than-ideal weather, there’s plenty to do and see. . . .

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