Tag: village

… bumblegrumble …

Ach … the clothes are in the machine which is quietly rumbling away. The room is cleared, reasonably, at least one can turn around without brushing stuff from tables – as if I had tables here – or move without raising plumes of dust. Things necessary are bought, even some unnecessary stuff, no need to go out then. Dishes washed, kitchen surfaces cleared, oh what a difference this makes ; bottles brought out.
Some things dealt with via computer, so even the desk appears to be less cramped, less paper.
Time to do something serious, like write this damn article. “… you’ll feel even better once you’ve got your article done …”, as IDV remarks absolutely aptly in the comments to the previous post, because only afterwards I can turn to the flotsam & jetsam. Good to learn btw that IDV’s blog is now reachable again, seemingly he has sorted his French troubles out.
“Write an article” – pfff, sounds a bit pompous, doesn’t it ?!
It’s just a very small scribble about a place here in the village. Promised the terrible text months ago to the friendly lady who runs this historical working group (“Arbeitskreis”) that prepares some notes about the must-see-attractions of the village. All in connection with the “Landesgartenschau” that will be held in the neighbouring “city”, and from what the adjacent villages wish to benefit in the form of visitors, tourists etc. This leads to general cleaning and brushing-up, planting of trees, revamping of garden benches, the demarcating of foot trails for avid wanderers including signs so that they don’t get lost in the Franconian wilderness. And when they stand at attractive points of interest they can point their smart phones on a sign with one of these squares that have a special name I forgot, get an internet connection and a smart voice (sometimes mine) explains what the wanderer sees – for example the “Roman Bridge“. Or tells what there is to know about the fountains – I happily got rid of this assignment – or the church, the library, you get the idea.
And I am stuck with the most unrewarding topic imaginable, even worse than the cemetery : Ein Schießplatz ! A military shooting range. Good GOd … I have a problem.
I can not think of one way to make this thing “attractive”. Especially because it is not used now for some years – the visitors will stand in front of a carefully closed metal gate decorated with a bit of rusty barbed wire – of the Nato kind with razor-blades, not the original German one.
The adjacent nice city on the banks of the river Main is today advertising itself with “Baroque” and “wine” – both things are fitting. But the city always had a military side too – remember that the most eye-catching building when you approach the town, is after all a fortress sitting on a hill over the civilian settlement. Through the nineteenth century, as Bavarian town, there was a garrison. And of course the military built-up in the 1930s did not pass the baroque beauty : New barracks, a large new military hospital, some bunkers were built in the area of the city – and a shooting range for small arms, Handfeuerwaffen (weapons you shoot while you hold them in your hands, like pistols and rifles, single action, half-automated, fully automated) was constructed on the Eastern area of this village.
On the Western side was an artillery shooting range that ignored the village’s borders. Now and then the cannoneers missed their targets and fired their grenades into the villagers’ gardens, GOd they had to learn somewhere, n’est-pas ?
The Schießplatz was used by the German Wehrmacht (“Where the fascist forces learnt their trade”- ?) until the end of the Wehrmacht. The place was put in use again by the Bundeswehr sometimes in the late fifties (I think) and at some (unknown) point taken over by the American Forces, until they relocated, reduced their forces and military bases in the whole of Germany and Middle Europe and regrouped worldwide. Then the Schießplatz was handed back via the German Federal State to the community, the village I live in – and since this day the village wonders what to do with that installation : Mountain bike fun arena ? Airsoft-blamm-splatter arena ? Just ignore and let it become a habitat for what-ever-wants-to-live-there ? No clue at all. Accepted all round is only that the public coffers are empty and that private housing is out of question.
And what do I tell the happy wanderers ? Ach …

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I’m Legal Now

Why do the forces of the universe find a joyless satisfaction in allowing a human being to become ill on the first day off work ?
Is it something we’ve done ? The looks ? The fact of our mere existence ?
Coughing, wheezing, sweating in the cold Eastern, I dragged my sore body – and the pounding head ! – over the groundless Franconian paths, slippery from treacherous mud and dirt, towards the big grey house where the authority dwells, embodied in my old nemesis, Miranda the evil dwarf.
When I first entered this crumbling building years ago and wandered through its endless corridors that look and smell like dried up pea soup, I was confronted with this gerbil like creature in the Bureau for Peasant’s Affairs. But gerbils have a soul, emotions, they even feel friendliness. Miranda the evil dwarf hated all and everything, himself, the job, the peasants. So he was the natural choice for the first desk opposite the entrance to the dimly lid file storage room that he controlled by miasmatic disdainfulness, you could have sawed blocks out of it …
To my amazement the steely stare I switched on before stepping over the threshold fell on a robust youngish woman. I noticed that the room was distinctly brighter, I was offered a chair ! Miranda seemingly is retired, maybe he kicked the bucket or simply vanished in the cellar to everybody’s relief. He took with him the nineteenhundredthirty’s ameublement, the pus coloured curtains, and the smell of fear & despair I remembered so well.
The young woman nevertheless interrogated me about personal details, like my hight (no idea), the colour of my eyes (changes, but there is always green in it), and put special emphasis on my nationality (“Coburgian”, what was dismissed). I never held two different passports, and – that was new to me – never served in foreign regular forces, thus acquiring a second nationality.
In front of me on the desk was a little thing like a tablet, like something you find in a shop, where you put the money down. It turned out to be a tablet and there I was shown the forms she had filled out, was asked to read through and control the details, and signed it with a stylo. I asked, it is a valid signature.
The new ID-card comes in the form of a cheque card size plastic piece with an embedded chip that stores my personal data and, if I allow it, the fingerprints of both forefingers (no way !). It also allows my identification online, valid for legal transactions ; but for this I’d need special soft~ and hardware, particularly a reader for the ID card.
I relinquished this functionalities, simply because I could not figure out circumstances in which I would need this. I avoid online-transactions generally, and can not think of a situation where I would need valid identification for a legally binding transaction via web – like … what ? Buying a house – no, I want a contract on paper and see who signs it. Opening an account at this respected Russian bank on The Caymans ? There are specialists for this, and again, you must see a person – hence you know whom to shoot when you are ruined …
The lady checked the photographic portrait I had acquired for expensive money, looked at it a bit quizzical, but it did fit into some scheme she used, and she glued it on a form. I payed my thirty Euro, one last signature (“This is the one that will be on the card.”), and that was it.
They send the whole stuff digitally to Berlin, the Bundesdruckerei (not G&D, I asked the lady, and she was firm about this : they cheated) will start the press, and sometime after Easter I will have a new, valid ID-card.
I went back through gardens of budding blossoms, cheered up by the distant laughter of children, wiping the image of an ugly mean dwarf from my memory.

Global Warming – what else

I switched the world on at 19:45 – no pun intended, pure contingency. It glows now for three hours and is still pretty cool, except for the top spot, as may be expected. When you look at it, Siberia is on top and actually the hottest place. But it’s far from hot, just warm to the touch. You can’t see it, but my world is a bit shattered, repaired & re-glued, but I assume that is a common experience, to have it shattered once or twice through lifetime.

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Die Welt

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I think such a globe could be found in any Western boy’s room through the late Sixties / early Seventies. And now that it’s de-dusted & cleaned I can switch it on again without having to fear burning dust. The colours are similar to those on the maps in the Atlas I got in school, and was allowed to keep when it was due to be given back, because it was falling apart. Now and then I turn my world a bit around, so that any part of it has a chance to become warm and cool off again.
I did not crawl into the cellar trying to locate family papers today, it was much too cold and böh. Instead I attempted to write something about the fountains of the village, but found it hard to get into the flow – lack of a dead-line perhaps … I do not remember whether I mentioned it here, it’s a group of volunteer historians, who produce small audio-pieces about historical points of interest, the Roman bridge (here) was my first contribution. At one point these soundbits will be accessible via wwweb, in connection with a presentation of the village and its neighbours on occasion of a local Gartenschau, still some years away ; but it needs a lot of preparation, because large areas that were former used by the USArmy are part of the whole package, and these areas are bordering the village. The university has a hand into the mud too.
But of course we want to look good, don’t we all ? Therefore Mago pieces together the history of the Fontane di Villaggio, and tries to fit the lack of history into an amusing three-minute-feature. I have to put on my thinking cap – there is always the village historian, a force to be reckoned with, as my old friend Duke Nukem (logo) once put it.
I turned the world a bit farther, Siberia was becoming notably warmer, not bad after four hours ; now it’s Alaska’s turn.

The Roman Bridge

Photos finally added, sorry for the tardiness.

Die Römerbrücke – die natürlich keine ist. It is not a “Roman” bridge, simply because the Romans did not come to this area, at least they did not build something here. The very end of the Roman Empire, the limes Germanicus (Ger., Eng., there’s a map), consisted of the river Moenus from Seligenstadt to Miltenberg, then left the river and went South over land. Some scholars of the 19th century nursed the idea that the fortress here would be based on a Roman military installation, but there is no proof for this claim and modern archaeology dismisses this idea.

Roughly one kilometer from the centre of my village in North-Eastern direction the Römerbrücke stands. Here once run a trading road from Würzburg to Bamberg ; it was a part of the larger connection between the free, important & rich cities of the Reich Frankfurt am Main and Nürnberg, on a larger scale of the route from Paris to Prague. The road came up from the valley of the river Main & the city of  Würzburg and crossed the valley of a small creek called Haslach ; it climbed up from the muddy valley via the Roßsteige (horses’ steep) and then went over land to the Steigerwald, generally in Eastern direction.
This gradient was pretty steep, additional horses needed to be harnessed to the coaches, it must have been a drag.
The 18th century brought us new roads, standardised in a way, the new chaussee. The Herzog happily embraced this idea and built new roads in his dukedom : Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1708-1779) (Ger., Eng.) commissioned the bridge in 1764. In fact it is not a single bridge that was built, but a 220 meter long earthen dam (causeway ?) that includes a bridge construction spanning the Haslach and thus “flattens” the gradient of the commercially important trading route. It simply makes the whole thing more viable. The dam is up to eight meters high, the bridge itself nearly 19 meters broad, the road is four to five meters wide.
The German description is “einfeldrige Bruchsteinbogenbrücke” – sorry, I can not translate this.
The importance of these new chaussees, in German Kunststrassen, artificial roads, can not be rated highly enough. In fact it is the first time since the Romans that a kind of standardised road system is built on a European scale. These roads allow fast and reliable traffic for goods, persons, mail, and of course for the movement of troops. They demand and cause standardisation, because the “Chauseeordnung” describes what format and what weight cars and coaches can have that finally travel on them. These roads demand a lot of investment, not only in building and construction as in our bridge here, but also in maintainance – in regular distances Chaussehäuser were erected where the Chaussewärter, the keeper, was stationed. He had to take care of a certain stretch of the road, and sometimes had to collect the road-tax too.
The bridge, the whole construction, was finished after three years and was open for traffic in 1766. It was used only for three years : In 1769 the building was closed for traffic because the foundations settled in the muddy subfloor, the Haslach simply did not like that thing. Cracks opened & it was deemed to dangerous to have heavy coaches rolling over it.
The planning went on and in the following year the whole road was relocated & shifted from this place to the North (on the other bank of the Haslach-creek), it finally run through the next village – avoiding the steep gradient & the marshy area altogether. The bridge was not repaired, but in contrary used as stone quarry to build the new road. It became finally obsolete for long distant travel when in the middle of the 19th century the railway was built – to this day the line goes in some hundred meters distance. The coaches had finally served its times.
The bridge was of course still used locally, only in 1960 it was closed for pedestrians. There was a bit of argument over the decades between the local community and the Bavarian state. The village was always poor & in debts and did not want to carry the Baulast, the public easement (and the responsibility) for the disused construction. Finally the whole ensemble was put on the Denkmalliste, the list of landmarks, and today the community has to take care for maintainance & safety.
And why is it called a “Roman” bridge ? Two explanations are given in literature : One says it’s because the road finally leads up to the Römer (Ger., Eng.) in Frankfurt – ah bah, who cares for Frankfurt here anyway ? The other says that the whole thing looks so nice and romantic-ruinous in the moonlight, ach – so Roman, simply … ; …

Some pictures will follow tomorrow.

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It’s the day after tomorrow – I think übermorgen is a wonderful word. So I am writing from the future …
Here are some pictures of the featured building. The first gives an impression of the whole thing. We stand on the Southern side of the dam and look in Eastern direction.

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Standing on the Southern side of the dam looking in Eastern direction
Standing on the Southern side of the dam looking in Eastern direction

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Turning around and going in Western direction there is finally a possibility to walk on the dam if only for a short stretch. Then they have planted a lot of dense & thorny bushes, small trees and high grass hinder the careless trespasser.

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Standing on the dam looking in Easter direction. This is a second, smaller arch that is closed for any kind of traffic
Standing on the dam looking in Easter direction. This is a second, smaller arch that is closed for any kind of traffic

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Looking from the Northern side in Easter direction. The whole construction was cut free from woods and brushes lately ; I have read in the local that some preservation measures are necessary.

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Standing on the North side looking East
Standing on the North side looking East

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And finally we are under the bridge.

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Under the bridge. No Stonemason's mark, no coat of arms, no graffiti, no nothing - just stones. Very nice.
Under the bridge. No Stonemason’s mark, no coat of arms, no graffiti, no nothing – just stones. Very nice.

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And one last view : This friendly little apple tree is a gift from the French twin village in the Calvados. It’s still a long way until we’ll have Franconian Calva.

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Roman bridge and the promise of Franconian Calvados
Roman bridge and the promise of Franconian Calvados

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Daht’s all.