Thursday, May 13, 2010

Being with Good Old Friends

When I was a student in Göttingen as a student in 1964-65 I lived in an independent student housing building.  There were about 30 private rooms on three floors with bathrooms and little kitchens down the halls.  It was a bit of a strange situation.  Residents had to be approved by the people already there and there were occasional get-togethers, but it wasn't anything like a fraternity and not as restrictive as a dormitory. 

Upstairs in a small apartment lived a married couple and before long I found myself invited for Abendbrot ("evening bread") several times a week.  HG would get his doctorate in Chemistry that year and we would become very good friends.  I have visited them maybe five or six times since then.  Over that time HG took an interest in monitor lizards and has since become one of the world's experts on the giant reptiles.  He and his growing family moved out of the town where he was teaching into an old farmhouse so they could keep the monitors in the basement.

Last time we were here I think he had about 30.  In fact, I was able to find his email before this trip through a Monitor Lizard journal.  We have been here a little over 24 hours and so far we haven't gone down to the basement.  I'm saving that.  Maybe this evening.  I think he said he was down to about ten animals now, but there are other creatures that populate the house. 

HG is retired from his chemistry professorship at the university, but he continues to write and research on monitors.  The life he leads would be impossible without his wife I who with incredibly good humor does all the administrative work necessary to run a household - especially one in a 100 year plus old farmhouse - and keep connected with the rest of the world.  Here's a still life she prepared last night. 

It was after nine when we took the dogs out of a walk.  The family is truly lucky to live in crowded Germany in such a beautiful little pocket of green open space. 

This house just feels so comfortable to me. 

Part of the household includes this hedgehog their daughter rescued last winter.  It should be release out into the wild already, but the spring has been so cold that they are waiting a little longer for the insects the hedgehog eats come out. 

Here's HG in his office with these great windows looking out into the woods.  And the view, with the birch trees, reminds me of home. 

We've been discussing everything under the sun from Yiddish folk songs to Muslims in Europe to raising children and, of course, monitor lizards. 

Another member of the household, who keeps checking on me now that I've connected to the internet in the computer room. 

Back in the kitchen for lunch where I has prepared a sort of quiche/pizza combination. 


  1. >The family is truly lucky to live in crowded Germany in such a beautiful little pocket of green open space.

    S'funny, I lived in Berlin for 3 years in the early '60s and have been back to Germany several times since, but have never seen the country as 'crowded' - maybe because once there I usually rent a car and drive between cities. Lots of space, usually beautiful. (And the food is phenomenal!)

  2. Julie, Maybe it's because I live in Alaska, but truly even in this beautiful spot it is hard to get to a point where there isn't a nearby house or other building. Even the woods are neat and orderly, the trees are even in rows in places!

  3. All of their books! I would probably learn German just so I could sit and absorb them all if it were possible!

    The cats are sweet (the one staring up sees ceiling cat!)


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