The Bavarian Countryside Between My Toes
In Germany, we can’t get a driver’s licence until we’re 18 years old. A car was never an option when I was young, but that wasn’t an obstacle to getting around. There were a good public transportation system, my bike, and two healthy feet.
I loved going places by bike and still remember how my father taught me how to ride it, without support wheels, on the pavement passing along our house. We would do biking tours on weekends stopping at a tavern in the middle of the forest for some ice cream or soda. My favourite ice cream was called “Brauner Bär” (Brown Bear), caramel ice cream with chocolate on top and the best core ever: liquid caramel!
In the summer, I would often go to school by bike, and to this day I remember the morning after watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds for the first time. On the way to high school, I passed by a huge field with many black crows sitting there, more than there had ever been before, or since that day. Scary coincidence! Or, was it!?
I would also use my bike to visit friends, or my grandparents. They lived on the same road, but almost on the other side of the village. As they got older I would often go grocery shopping for them on my bike. My grandfather loved the woods. Back when he was still healthy, we all would take extended walks through the forest, either the one near our home, or the one a bit to the south where my grandmother’s ancestors had lived.
My grandfather knew his way around mushrooms, and sometimes I would help him collect them. It was exciting and fun to walk across the forest hunting mushrooms, learning about the toxic ones, and especially, stepping on any Bovista I could find to see the spores release with a fart-like sound. Once we were back at my grandparents’ house the results were delicious, too: bread dumplings with mushroom cream sauce made by my grandfather himself! Once in a while I still dream of this dish, it was that good.
In my later teenage years, easy access to public transportation made it possible to visit my friends in Munich, spending time in one of their homes, or getting ice cream and sitting at the local market place and watching people together, dreaming about what we would do in the future.
Remembering all of this right now makes me want to check on my bike, fix it up, and go for a summer ride!