Molly on the Main

Day 9 - Saturday, June 1

We slept a little later today - after a long day yesterday, the bed was just too comfortable!

Around 9 am, we joined our friends and their family at breakfast and made today's plans. Their children - two high-school aged boys and a grade-school aged girl - keep their parents busy with all kinds of interesting projects such as raising chickens, keeping bees, designing and maintaining different gardens, and improving the environmental management of their properties (e.g., constructing a way to collect and use rain water or building a half-shelter from old windows and wood remnants in which to keep and raise tomatoes.)

So the breakfast discussion was a sorting out of who was doing what chores today, as well as what Steve and I might like to do with our rest day. Martina suggested that we might go down the hill to Marktbreit with her and her daughter to see the Ritterfest (Knight's Festival.) This sounded good to us, and we took off as soon as everyone was organized and kitchen dishes were cleared away - oh, and somehow Martina found time to and bake a fresh rhubarb cake from rhubarb stalks cut that morning. Since we wanted to see several places and return to the house around mid-afternoon for some other obligations, we decided to take the bicycles around and and down the hill into the village. This was actually a good decision because it was quite warm today, and we would have gotten too hot walking that distance. Also, it was much quicker by bicycle and we saw a lot more.

We stopped at a place not far from our friends' place where they maintain another garden. This one is being developed and reclaimed from five years of non-use, so there is much work to do. Martina showed me the property, and while we stood there, she cautioned me to be wary of the stinging nettle plant at my side. She explained that they use the nettles to make a solution that repels aphids.

I found the Ritterfest quite interesting. It could be described as a small Renaissance Fair - with more focus on the Middle Ages and particularly on the life of a knight (and probably squires and pages, too.) When I was in graduate school years ago, my medieval literature professor, Dr. West, described the chivalrous traditions during our study of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I was so intrigued by this! He was the first person who ever told me about a Renaissance Fair and the Society of Creative Anachronism. In all those years, I have not yet been to a Renaissance Fair, but this little festival made me think of Professor West and the enthusiasm we shared for just about anything having to do with medieval times.

This was a small but fun little festival - there were several tents to house the members of the group presenting the program, and many of them were seated at a long "banquet" table under another larger tent. The other tents were equipped with wooden bed frames draped with animal furs or woven blankets, and many of them also had a woven carpet on the floor of the tent. Clearly these were the tents for the "nobility" in the group, and smaller more rustic accommodations were located closer to the horses (maybe these were for the squires - I suppose the pages were expected to sleep in the open air on the ground.) While we sat in the cool shade, we marveled at the long-sleeved and layered costumes of the presenters. It seemed too much for a hot day, but I suppose they have become accustomed to it.

The demonstrations were educational and entertaining. There was a sandy court with a center wooden railing, as if set up for a jousting match, but we did not stay for any jousting presentations. Rather we watched as the presenters brought out two young horses on the halter and explained how the animals are prepared for the sounds and the sensations they might experience in battle. For example, the horses were led around while a knight waved a torch around or pounded on a wooden shield. They were also guided to walk between two men standing close together, and gradually the process became a request for them to walk between two knights who stood with shields, gently pressing against the horse's shoulders. This would help acquaint the animal with following commands even in close quarters.

Later, one of the knights brought out a wolfish-looking dog and demonstrated how the dog could engage in battle with a foot soldier. Many of the spectators were small children, so the presenter first explained that although the dog looked and sounded mean, he was not hurting the man (and actually, it looked to us like the dog was having fun wrestling with the man.)

While we watched the presentation, we enjoyed bratwursts and a couple of Radlers (lemonade and beer), which were a perfect mid-day lunch for us. After we had been at the festival for about an hour or more, we cycled back into the village and stopped for a little gelato (nutrition to help power us back up the hill.)

We returned to our friends' house, and Steve went off to take a nap while I watched a movie with our friends' daughter. We watched Ice Age 3, which I had not seen before but enjoyed for its humor and good narrative. I did not follow the dialogue, but this is a universal story and it wasn't really necessary to hear it all to follow the plot.

I took a break mid-way through the movie for a cup of coffee and a piece of rhubarb cake, both of which were superb!

We had the opportunity to use the washing machine, too, which is a real luxury since we know that the next three days are going to be very warm and we will quickly use up all the clean clothes that we have.

We had a light dinner of some sausages, cheese and bread with a little wine, and decided it would be good to retire early tonight. This has been a restful and enjoyable day - our friends have kept us entertained and very relaxed even while showing us lots of new and interesting things.

In Marktbreit, a building shows the high-water marks from major flooding of the Main River in 1784 and 1845. The village was preparing for a weekend festival the next day, which is why the wooden huts are in the street.

Historic Hotel Loewen in Marktbreit

Martina's homemade rhubarb cake (it was super!)

Working in their garden, moving plants and starting areas for new plantings.

A knight at the weekend Ritterfest in Marktbreit

These two women are explaining how young horses are gradually trained to tolerate noises, sensations and actions typical for a knight jousting tournament.

This knight demonstrated how the dog is trained for battle. (He first explained that, while the dog looks and sounds ferocious, he was really not mean and the action was harmless.) Actually, the dog did sound ferocious, but its actions evolved into more playfulness than a real attack.)

A knight's tent, with luxurious sleeping accommodations.

A village street in Marktbreit.

In the flower garden at our friends' house.

Our friends keep a small number of chickens and have a nice coop and chicken yard for them

Christoph built this really cool horse for his daughter.


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