Part 46: A Nature Walk On The Way To School

In late summer, right in the first days of September, I set out for my first day of school. When I left the house early in the morning, swallows were already gathering in long rows, chirping excitedly on the power lines.

They were probably excitedly chirping in consultation about their long journey south. At the exit of the village, a wide dirt road, overgrown with fruit trees on both sides, opened into the shortest route to town. After the grain harvest, hundreds of horses’ hooves and the wheels of wagons heavily loaded with sheaves of grain had ground the ruts of the path into dry dust. Next to it, under the trees, meandered a well-trodden trail.

The rising sun quickly drove away the late summer morning chill. On the trees, next to ripe apples, hung golden-yellow braids of cornstalks that the spreading branches had plucked from the swaying harvesters. Down in the dust, a flock of gray field sparrows were clashing for the fallen grains. As I approached, they flew a shallow semicircle, buzzing, and landed, chirping, and fighting, back on the just-abandoned feeding ground.

Without a wing beat, a buzzard circled in the awakening thermals, startling a colorful flock of feral pigeons that were gleaning grains in a stubble field. With clapping wing beats, protecting each other in close flight formation, the flock shot off fleeing like arrows. Hamsters and field mice now had to be very vigilant in their search for food, for cover in the harvested fields had become sparser.

On both sides of the path, harvested fields alternated with beet fields and potato fields. The turnips were still in their fresh green, but the potato weeds were already wilting and turning brown. In an apple tree on a leafless high branch squatted a yellowhammer. Even when I approached, it did not fly away. With the abundant food supply, it did not yet feel any desire for the strenuous journey to the winter quarters.

After a few kilometers the dirt road turned off, only the trail and a grassy wagon track continued straight ahead towards the city. In front of a hollow way overgrown with overgrown plum trees, the track split. One led through a small ravine, the other ran along the upper edge of the hollow way.

I realized: in rainy weather, passage through the ravine was not advisable. Nice views as it didn’t stay summer forever. The sloping, steeply inclined tower of the town church came into view. Only a good kilometer to go to the city limits. On the right, the fields gave way to steep hills covered with sparse grass. Here and there the green was interrupted by white-gray limestones. In small islands sloe and rosehip bushes clung to the meager crumb.

On the first floor of the bushes, sun-hungry lizards found shelter. On the second floor lived the wren and the robin. On the upper floor, the red-breasted red-backed shrike impaled its prey, beetles, caterpillars, and sometimes small birds, on the thorns. That there must always be nine prey is a fairy tale; the impaled prey merely serves as a food reserve.

I knew that from the ‘Old Forester.’ He did not tell me about the historical events that had taken place on these hills more than four hundred years ago. Here the rebellious peasants suffered a crushing defeat in the fight against their oppressors. The counts and the feudal lords, with their well-armed vassals, caused a terrible bloodbath among the peasants. It is said that so much blood flowed down the battle hill that a gully was formed, which is still called the ‘blood gully’ today.

I could neither suspect nor know that high above my bumpy school path a monumental circular building (the Peasants’ War Panorama by Werner Tübke) would be erected to commemorate these historic events 30 years later.

I had left the leaning church tower behind me. A few steps further, across the street, a very modern swimming pool fed by brine spring water. The town lived from the spa business. Another short stretch of road, then the houses opened a view of the green, which was decorated with flowerbeds. Across the street, the stately school building rose in the sunlight. I had arrived at my destination. I would now have to walk this path every day, in the sunshine, in the dark, in the rain, storm, cold and snow. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

💡 Do you have a Linkedin account? Then you can subscribe to my newsletter „The Bright Side of the Doom“ ✔︎