Returned a month ago from ten days in Bavaria. Went with Mary as guests of the Traditonal Hunting Archers of Germany (TJBD). Still basking in the warmth of the experience. Food, drink and spontaneously generous, fun-loving people [Picture 1]the best ten days I've ever spent in civilization, most of it in the pastoral, historical setting of the Black Forest.
Mary teaches Latin in the public school system. Her passions are ancient religions and history. While I hung with the archers at the rendezvous, giving bow-building demonstrations and b.s.'ing, Mary often had her own escort, Winfried Lauber, an English speaking archeologist [Picture 2], who took her to Roman ruins, historical Roman sites [Picture 3], the cathedral to St. Peter in Regensburg, and to numerous castles [Picture 4] and museums over a 6 day span.
I went to the cathedral with her. 1000 years old from its beginning, 600 years in its creation and under constant repair and maintenance thereafter. Awe inspiring as a physical presence alone. Nothing like being in the nave of a gothic cathedral and looking up, or ascending into its spires and looking down, stone upon stone. Imagine a 16th C. peasant, journeyed to the city after a lifetime of wrestling daily with rock and dirt, lifting his eyes to those same elements spiritually transformed [Picture 5].
The head of the stone-mason’s shop was an archer [Picture 6, Picture 7]. He took us on a cook’s tour through the cathedral, which included a lift up the workman’s elevator into the tops of the twin spires themselves [Picture 8], and a trip into the catacombs, where past bishops were buried under exquisitely carved gravestones paved into the floor [Picture 9].
We ate Bavarian cheeses, sausages and brick-oven baked whole grain bread until we both thought we’d need an extra airline seat for the return trip [Picture 10]. I drank more beer than ever before. It was delicious, in another realm from national American beers, which contain rice and corn. The German Purity Law, enacted five hundred years ago, stipulates that beer can only have three ingredients: hops, malt and water. Thassit. Every village had its own brewery, and each brewer gives his beer an identity through the manipulation of malts and the selection of hops, grown locally. It is all excellent.
The cheeses in both variety and quality matched the sausages, and Bavaria must rank with the sausage capitals of the universe. Mary drank a small glass of milk from the food provided for us in our apartment, and remarked that the key to Bavarian cheese excellence was in the milk. Had to agree with her that their milk is altogether different from ours. Rich and sweet, with a faint floral scent. Same butterfat content, but the difference is comparable to the difference with American beer. You gotta wonder what we do to our cheese that we can get it into an aerosol canor, more to the point, that we'd even want to.
I gave a slide show Saturday night of my four trips in four years to hunt Australia. It was a hoot. The Australians are the polar opposites of the Germans, with no game laws, no seasons, no licenses to purchase, no bag limits, no traditions to bind and obey, no one to dictate how you hunt. Indeed, bowhunting is illegal in Germany, and most club members go to nearby Hungary.
We auctioned off one of my blooded hunting bows as a TJBD fund raiser [Picture 11]. Prior to the auction I passed around four exquisite footed, crested shafts made by my friend Brian Patterson. Everyone in attendance filled them with signatures [Picture 12]. I'll take their spirit and those arrows hunting with me this fallreminders of the good times, of my new friends, and to never take our archery hunting seasons for granted. Reminders to share the lure and to spread the lore.