Laura Boston-Thek „American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).“

Eyes Skyward

“HURRY UP and look out the window” is a cry you hear daily in our house. Life n the mountains can be full of wonder and adventure, especially with all the constant weather changes. We have experienced many exciting environmental moments since our move to Schliersee. From waking to find red Saharan sand covering everything to experiencing the psychedelic wonder of Fire Rainbows oozing across the sky. I can honestly say there has not been a dull moment.

With a vigilant eye on the sky and ever present camera at the ready I have been lucky enough to capture a few of Mother Nature’s Alpine phenomena.  If you plan to spend time in the Schliersee area, it is very helpful to keep a watch on the weather as it is constantly changing in the mountains. A reliable meteorological app or website is very important and I highly recommend the site Bergfex to get accurate hourly forecast.
One of the most common weather occurrences in Schliersee is called Foehn.  A föhn or foehn is a type of dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the downwind side of a mountain range. Without getting too technical foehn winds create some incredible cloud formations like the wave shaped cloud called a “Kelvin-Helmholtz” Cloud and the most recognizable cloud associated with foehn, the cigar or flying saucer shaped “Lenticular” clouds. Many people complain of headaches or general discomfort from the pressure caused by foehn and you will often here people discussing it or blaming it for almost anything negative.

January is a month known for snow and white landscapes but on our very first January in Neuhaus we were witness to an amazing sight.  While out on a walk the sky above started to glow and swirl in an intense rainbow of colors. I would describe it as an effect like oil on water. This incredibly rare sight turned out to be what is called a “Circumhorizontal arc” or “Fire Rainbow”.  It was like seeing Borealis in the daytime. I stopped a man working in his garden and pointed at the sky excitedly and he looked and shrugged very unimpressed and mumbled “foehn”. What was a once in a lifetime experience for us seemed to be a common occurrence for this area.

As beautiful as our landscapes are here in Schliersee it is often the ever changing “sky-scapes” that awe and inspire this photographer daily. Try not to be deterred or discouraged if the forecast is for rain, just throw on some water proofing and head out on a walk. It is when you least expect it that Mother Nature paints the sky most dramatically.

Bergfex: http://www.bergfex.com/sommer/schliersee-neuhaus-spitzingsee/wetter/

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

The Secret Side of the Maypole Tradition

As you might have already noticed, I love everything about ancient cultural traditions.  One of my personal favorites, the Bavarian tradition of the Maypole, I believe might just be one of the most fun.

A Maypole or Maibaum is a tall tree that has been stripped of it’s branches and is either left natural or painted with the classic Bavarian blue and white.  Besides the decorative stripped and checked painting a Maypole has either crests symbols or figures jutting off the sides which represent the many different craftsman guilds of the village. The Maypole is erected by the young men of the “Burschenverein” a kind of Maypole club. They are placed in the village square on the first day May. The t of May or Mayday is often called Workers Day.

Much of what I have already written is common knowledge so I won’t bore you with more facts. But were you aware that much of the work that goes into making a Maypole must be done in secret? For the its own safety? This is absolutely true! It is tradition for the young people of other villages to stealthily steal the Maypole from another town and to hold it hostage for unbelievable amounts of beer and food. There are many famous thefts of Maypoles including the legendary 2004 theft of the massive one on the top of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze which was done by helicopter.

I learned firsthand how much effort is put into the safe keeping of the pole when I first moved to Schliersee and was motivated to stop and take some photos of a Maypole in progress in one of our neighboring villages. I would stop by from time to time to see the various stages from natural tree to hand hewn pole and onto the finish painting.  On one of my last visits I had the definite feeling that I was being watched. Just behind me was a mobile wagon used on construction sites, peering out of each window were nervous faces of young men. I had to laugh to myself thinking t they must be wondering if I am doing reconnaissance for another village to come steal their Maypole.

Every effort is made to secure the safety of the Maypole and therefore the honor of the village or town. I have seen 24 hour video camera coverage. Recently here in Schliersee a radio personality moved in and kept watch over the local Maypole 24 hours a day. It was great fun to watch as he was visited by various people, blessed by the local church and even pizza was delivered to him so he didn’t have to leave his post. You are required to pay the ransom for the stolen Maypole and with astronomical ransoms being the norm, guarding that pole is a serious business.

As with everything in Germany there is a list of rules and basic decorum for stealing another villages Maypole which must be followed. I have acquired the list for you incase you are feeling the need to invade your neighboring town.

Bavarian rules for Maypole Theft:

  1. No rooted trees must be stolen, the tree must have already been felled.
  2. Trees must not be stolen from the forest, since wood theft is otherwise punished.
  3. The maypole must be stolen only when it finds itself within the place, for it is only then that it is a maypole.
  4. You cannot steal your own town’s Maypole. It is forbidden.
  5. The tree must be stolen secretly and undetected.
  6. The tree must not be sawn or damaged.
  7. Violence against guardians must never be applied.When a guardian from the village puts his hand on the tree, he cannot be touched by the thieves.

If violence is used, the police are often switched called, which is always unfavorable for the preservation of the custom.  So basically keep it a clean.

  1. If the thieves within the municipality boundary are surprised at the transport, they must return their prey without a fight. If you are found within the town stealing the Maypole you have to give it back.
  2. Once the Maypole is erected it can no longer be stolen.
  3. Boards and wreaths must not be stolen, only the tree itself. So the decorative attachments must he stay
  4. If the theft was successful, the parties enter into ransom negotiations.No extreme claims may be made.
  5. It is permitted to steal a stolen Maypole back, either from third parties or from the defendants.The rules must also be strictly adhered to.
  6. Traditionally, the Maypole thieves help to erect the trees and help with decorating as well.
  7. If negotiations fail, it is considered additional blessing to those who stole the Maypole.After a few weeks, the Maypole sawn and auctioned.Before that on the “ Schandbaum” or “Shame-Tree,“ a panel is often affixed, on which the thieves express their disappointment by mocking.
  8. After reconciliation peace is restored.The tradition of the maypole should be handled in such a way that lawyers are unnecessary.

Let this be a reminder to anyone who might be interested in attempting to steal a Maypole this year….always follow the rules and keep it fun.

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Eisheiligen and Spring’s Folkloric Lesson

A bitter spring snow storm is a great reminder of the importance of listening to certain local folklore. One of my first homes in Germany was a cozy garden apartment and I spent many a day puttering around the garden with the my landlord’s elderly father.  He taught me many wonderful folk stories and many I still follow to this day.

One evening while we raced about finding containers and blankets to tuck in and protect our new little plants from the dropping temperatures and icy precipitation I was reminded of one very important lesson I was taught those many years ago. Here in Germany there are weather saints called the “Eisheiligen”, who dictate when you should begin your spring planting.  They serve an important purpose because it is easy to get lured by beautiful early spring sunshine to start plotting and planting your garden. Especially after a long hard winter.

The Eisheiligen are so important here in Germany that they have their own calendar which tells you when it is safest to plant each year. Not only do they have a calendar but they have names and their particular date which are as follows for 2017:

Termine 2017

  • Mamertus – Thursday, 11. Mai 2017
  • Pankratius – Friday, 12. Mai 2017
  • Servatius – Saturday, 13. Mai 2017
  • Bonifatius – Sunday, 14. Mai 2017
  • Kalte Sophie – Monday, 15. Mai 2017

For European farmers and gardeners 20-25 May seems to be the magical date deemed safe enough for animals to come out of the barns as well as seedlings to be planted. I have always wondered about this because many times people believe the first day of May to be the beginning of frost free time. But if you get the chance, you often see safe inside neighbors garages abundantly planted flower boxes waiting for the right date to be put out on display.

Creating those amazing flower boxes is an article for another day. Right now, as I sit here watching the snow fall I think I will put another log on the fire and go find my warm winter clothing I obviously put away too soon.

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Easter Markets and Ancient Traditions

We here in Schliersee just enjoyed a beautiful weekend to begin the German Easter vacation break.  Not only did we have spectacular weather to enjoy but Palm Sunday weekend also means we have colorful Easter markets to visit.

In Schliersee we had two lovely markets, chock full of delicious and creative items.  It is a wonderful feeling after a long cold winter to see the landscape dotted with color once more.  One Easter tradition you find in Germany is the Easter Tree. It is a symbol of new life.  You see trees in front of many homes decorated with colorful eggs. In many other homes people bring in fruit tree branches and put them in a vase to force the branches to bloom early, filling the house with color and life.  Colorful dyed or hand painted eggs are hung from these branches to give it the finishing touch.

Another ornamental tradition here in Schlieree is the “Palmbuschen or Palmbüscherl”. In Catholic American churches families get palm fronds or palm crosses which are part of Christian iconography symbolizing the palm branches that were waved at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. On Palmsamstag or the Saturday before Palm Sunday, in the afternoon adults, children and teenagers of the Catholic church make the Palmbüscherl using certain natural materials for protection and blessing. They bind them using branches of Cedar, Yew, Holly, Juniper and most traditionally Palm Willow or what we in the US call Pussy Willow. The Pussy Willow or Palm Willow is used in Europe instead of the Palm Frond. These little wand like Palmbuschen are intricate little tokens of devotion and are themselves works of art.

 

On Palmsonntag the Palmbüscherl are individually attached to long wooden poles and carried down the aisle of the  church in a solemn procession to be blessed. They are then taken home and placed either by the Easter Tree or in traditional catholic Bavarian homes, in the Herrgottswinkel. What is the Herrgottswinkel of a home you ask?  I had to look it up as well but definitely found it very interesting. The Herrgottswinkel is something you see in many old Bavarian farm houses, it is a corner in a room where a wooden carved crucifix is hung. It is almost like a shrine or an altar and it is here that the little Palmbuschen is placed.

If you are lucky enough to be in Schliersee for Easter Vacation next year you can find all these traditional holiday crafts as well as many others at the yearly markets held at Vitalwelt and St Joseph’s Church in Neuhaus.  My husband said the best part is always the homemade cakes.

http://magazin.schliersee.de/event/schlierseer-ostermarkt/

http://www.pv-schliersee.de/?q=josef/start

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Restaurant David – Breathing New Life in this Season of Rebirth

On a chilly Spring evening I met with András Kalmár and his wife Annett Kalmár-Seer and her brother Dávid Seer. They kindly invited me to their family owned and operated restaurant. Restaurant David, named after Dávid Seer who is the manager, is located in the picturesque alpine victorian, Wirtshaus Wendelstein right downtown in Schliersee. On that evening they were having a “Hungarian Evening” with a live violinist which was the perfect backdrop to our meeting to talk about all the new and exciting changes happening at Restaurant David this spring.

 

They are celebrating their 2nd anniversary on the 20th of May 2017, the owners decided to bring in a very talented new Hungarian Chef and with his new vision, create a completely new and very special menu. As of now they are planning to unveil this new menu in May. Chef Robert Lábodi, who went into the culinary arts after his sport career ended due to injury and his passion for food drove him to study to be a Chef and he was trained at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or in Paris. Chef Robert Lábodi will be moving to Schliersee end of April.

Chef Robert is bringing with him a fusion of techniques from traditional to modern gastronomy.  He wants to blend the best of the worlds cuisine.  He mentioned techniques like Sous Vide which is a French method of cooking which has become very popular in this time of finding ways to eat healthier.  Sous Vide is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch then placed in a water bath and can be used for meat and vegetables. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside. This method really retains the moisture in the food keeping things juicy and delicious.

He is also a sponsor for the use of silicon food forms to create unique and unusual ways to create appetizers. These forms would be used to shape exotic grains like couscous or vegetables into shapes which can later be filled with sauces. Adding a touch of architecture to their finished plates.

After visiting Schliersee from Budapest they fell in love with the beauty and serenity Schliersee and have worked hard to bring international flavors to our alpine lakeside community. They advertise extensively to encourage a substantial amount of tourism from Hungary and around the world.

 

If you haven’t tried Restaurant David yet, drop by and give their new menu a try and welcome Chef Robert to his new home in Schliersee.

To get your reservation:

http://www.restaurantdavid.de

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).