Monthly Archives: July 2020
Smile … it’s summer!
The weather in our corner of Europe has been so lovely. Mostly sunshine, cool breezes and temps that don’t make us fantasize about air conditioning. So, we’ve been enjoying a lot of outdoor time.
Yesterday, while sipping some Maredsous at our favorite cafe pub, just loving life the way we do, nature bitch slapped us a little reminder. A flock of pigeons played chicken with our allegedly slow-moving traffic since it’s right near where diners and sippers sit. One got its neck snapped by an overzealous driver (Joe says his wife was arguing with him — I’m ignoring that hint). Another driver, got out, gingerly picked up the bird and scooped her to the side where she sadly twitched until she died. It was awful, but around 10 minutes later another pigeon flew to her side. He squawked and pecked to make her move.
“Aw look it’s her mate,” I cooed. “How sad, he’s trying to wake her.”
Then the bird jumps up and down on the carcass, feathers flying, but still no movement, so I shit you not: he humps his dead mate. What in the effity eff is that? Joe is dying; Badger is fascinated; I’m again mortified. Satisfied, Mr. Peckity Pecker flies off, a few minutes later another bird lands and does the same exact thing. This happens until another human kindly picks up the de-fowled carcass and throws it away.
This, my friends, is when I learn that a. pigeons are as messed up and cruel as we are (who knew necrophilia was a cross-species thing?), and b. that dead bird pretty much sums up 2020. Just when you think it’s bad; it gets more freaky.
Belgium, along with much of Europe, is battling the beginnings of our second wave. We now have to wear a mask pretty much everywhere (which I’m okay with) and keep our social circle to no more than 5 for the next 4 weeks. They are trying to avoid a complete lockdown, but our numbers are quickly rising. Within this timeframe, I’m going back to work — allegedly in the classroom with students, but I guess we shall see what the great pigeons in the sky have to say about that.
Despite this being probably the worst year in a long time, Joe, Badger and I have managed to tune out the nasties going on in our world and mostly enjoy our summer. Our first stop was in wine country, Germany where we hiked grape-laced hills and sipped along romantic riverbanks.
We were off to a great start, until the Polezei pulled us over. Turns out our temporary tags on the new car expired (guess we should have looked!). Long story short: I talked my way out of getting our car impounded, and promised we’d manage a way back to Belgium to get our permanent tags. In the middle of the night, we ran like the bandits that we are and drove praying like mad that we’d make it to the Belgium border without another encounter with the law: whew! we did. But, we had to cancel our Black Forest and Austrian alps portion of our trip. It’s all good since the lady who owns the alps cabin said we could come during my next vacation instead, so no money lost there.
Once our tags came in, we got back on the road and visited friends in Bavaria, where we hiked and sipped some more.
Click here to see Badger’s pics and thoughts on our hikes.
After having fun with our friends there, we took off to spend a few nights in Poland (with friends) where we supported local artists by buying pottery (so much so, on my end, that lol I had to buy a cart to store some of it) and hiked some more. Our adorable rental also had an inflatable jacuzzi out back, so we got to sip outside and soothe our sore muscles at the same time. Perfection! Our hostess also suggested we take a dip in the “little lake” (a rock quarry) just a few minutes away. It’s mineral water, she said, so it would take 10 years off our age, so heck yeah despite the slippery climb down and the cold water, we dove in. Um, on our way out we saw the No Swimming sign — too late, party of 30 and 40 somethings (ahem) on their way to the jacuzzi.
We loved touring Grodziec Castle, it’s like a jungle gym for adults. Lots of towers and tunnels to climb through and plenty of fairy tale trails to get lost in, plus the museum end of it where you can pretend you’re a knight or princess. Next summer we’d like to tour more of Poland. The people are great, food is hearty and comforting, beer is good, and it’s surrounded by so much beauty. So, yeah Poland we heart you.
Of course we also love Germany; I’m still hoping I one day get a post there. But all is also well in Belgium.
The virus may be doing its damage, but Mons is still doing its best to spruce the place up for summer. No festivals or big parties, but they did decorate the Grand Place to make it beachy.
Temps are supposed to be in the nineties on Friday, so we’re contemplating another Ardennes trip since it’ll be cooler there, and we love it there too. What’s not to love about castles, woodsy hikes and beer. We wanted to go back to the Netherlands for a bit before I go back to work, but we’re afraid to cross borders right now. No sense in tempting fate in case they do close again, plus, to be honest, we’re just better off hunkering down in Mons. There’s plenty here to keep us amused.
And that’s about it on our end. Hopefully, the next time I pop in I can tell you all about how we managed to dodge a second wave.
Old and new
The wind tickles the willow and oak that surround me. The trees, while hearty and tall (like the Dutch who tend them), have not been here very long (from Mother Earth’s perspective). 900 years ago they would not have been allowed to take root. The mill I’ve been sleeping in needed to feed on all the wind, so that she could pump the waters nearby.
A horny bull locked up in a barn calls out to any heifer who’d have him while a herd of cows gather in the meadow outside. They roll their eyes and look at each other mooing “which one of us will have to bear this fool’s child?”
Meanwhile a pack of mother hens and their one proud rooster bitch at Badger and me for sitting in ‘their’ spot by the dyke. A wounded peacock sings to no one in the distance and ducks glide across lily pads teasing Badger because they know I will not allow him to chase them.
I am, once again, blessed to have the time and means to inhale the good our world has to offer us, and I am surrounded by so much old and new. We’re in a remote village in South Holland flanked by dairy and sheep farms. The old windmill we’ve been sleeping in no longer has its blades, nor is she expected to do anything more than charm and warm the tourists who visit her. And that she does.
Since this is the summer of Covid, we’re not planning any flights or major city outings. We’re just going from countryside to countryside, and we couldn’t be happier. Last week we were in the Ardennes hiking its woods and checking out the ruins of man, from megaliths to cemeteries and castles.
This week it’s the Netherlands, in two days it’ll be Luxembourg. We are also happy to announce that our new vehicle has arrived, which is why we’re able to once again go from countryside to countryside. Badger is quite happy to have all of the extra room in the back. It’s a bit bigger than our VW Golf, and I’m happy to report I can park it in our tiny garage.
Sadly our time at the windmill is nearing its end. We have to check out in less than an hour, but it’s all good we will be back. Next up: we’re meeting Jordy and Wilber (who just flew in from Seoul) for lunch at Gouda, yum yum!
Since I’m running out of quiet time (have to clean and pack up), here’s a photo dump on our lovely little home away from home. Since this is a little over a two hour drive from Mons, we will most certainly be back.
I highly, highly recommend staying here if you can. Click on the website link below — don’t worry there’s an English option as well. https://www.deouwemeulen.nl