Hoopoe

Was thrilled that at very long last many of Angie's family turned up for a BBQ & Pool day. Every summer I try my hardest to get out an invitation but all that happens is that one person is invited. And this one person is someone I avoid like the pest - a fascist, bigot. I rather like the German expression for Bigot - "Blinde Eifer" or "blind bigotry".

However this year I started my efforts on 1st June trying hard to get an invite extended to coincide with my children's visit in July. Sadly no invite issued. After Gerhard's birthday party on 14th July, I tried again but that failed. Another attempt on 22nd July went the same way.

But I didn't give up and eventually, a WhatsApp invite went out on Wednesday this week. Sadly too late for some to perhaps change plans but at least the majority could come as well as MrsMY and family.

The bad news was that I had already committed to taking a stand against bigotry today (no, the person above was thankfully not invited). It became very apparent to me during a series of high-level international meetings such as the G7 in Canada, the NATO meeting in Belgium and the Trump visit to the UK, that far too many are willing to appease the very worse bigots simply to enhance/advance their own positions and political ambitions. The TV footage comparing the stance, movements words and gestures of Prime Minister May compared to Chancellor Merkel, were not just embarrassing but totally frightening. May spending her whole time grovelling around the evil man as if begging to be one of his gang, get herself in the photo standing next to him and seemingly getting more thrills each time Donald whacked her another one around the face.

So after all my efforts to get everyone together, I wasn't to enjoy a moment! But I hope everyone had fun, the children were allowed to jump and splash in the water and scream and yell and leave bits of clothes strewn around and be carefree. And hopefully, the adults too! Not something always accepted around here.

I admit today was probably not the aptest day for my action but there is only so much one can take before the bubble bursts! The lesson is that one should, from day one, resist these people and increase the pressure day for day for day, and not let the pressure build up over months and years and then explode causing collateral damage. Next time I will try to get it right and my sincere apologies to innocent bystanders who were caught in the action!

During my adventures, came across this so-called "Streuobstwiese" on the edge of our parish for which there is no direct translation (lit. Spread-Fruit-Meadow) and which is something more than the simple  "fruit orchard" which is what it is. It is part of an old "traditional" culture of having a communal village orchard usually of stone fruit trees but could also include nuts (e.g. Hazel, Walnut) and may be used to graze sheep.

Unlike a modern commercial fruit plantation the trees were allowed to grow "naturally" (in so far as any square metre of European soil is "Natural-Wild" as opposed to "Cultured-Wild"), apart from the annual health and vitality prune, and thus those such remaining orchards tend to still have some of the old fruit varieties that have long been lost on our supermarket shelves. And of course these old orchards have been done away with as being a nuisance in our prim villages. Nobody keeps sheep, parish council can't afford to cut the grass, the locals don't like the wasps that descend on the rotting fruit that nobody wants to pick because it is more effort than going to the supermarket and putting a nice wax-coated 4-pack of shining green, blemish free, hygienically plastic wrapped apples, that have been flown 20,000 miles around the world, into the trolley. No ladder, no bending down, no flies, no carting of buckets to the car.

I have for the last 16 years been trying to turn one of our fields which is very unsuited for the horses into just such an orchard. I admit storing fruit over winter is a very time and space consuming job but I have always been inspired by the ease and cheapness of getting fruit juice made from one's own fruit. There are lots of fruit pressing and bottling businesses that will press for you if you have around 80-100kg needed to make the separate pressing worthwhile. But they will always accept smaller quantities of your fallen blemished fruit so long as it's not badly rotten - in exchange you get bottles of fresh fruit from a "pot" where all such fruit is mixed together, naturally the business taking their cut. I'm not sure what the ratio of brought fruit to free juice is.

If one is honest, such an orchard is unlikely to be a huge financial success as we seem to frequently have a late frost, as in 2017 which ruins the crop but then there are years like this one where the trees are bending at the weight. Not easy to see but behind the small apple laden tree in the centre of the photo is another one that was much bigger but all the branches have broken off under the weight.

This particular orchard looks quite orderly as it's relatively new and I think probably started by a club/society trying to save old fruit varieties. These mixed orchards are vital to our ecosystem and can help fight against the dangers of the prevalent monoculture that takes away natures ability to fight disease and pests. Even the old dead tree in the orchard is an important part of this - such trees are the ideal nesting places for birds such as the wonderful Hoopoe which is under serious threat of extinction in our climes.

Perhaps one day my fight against the bigots may be successful enough to allow me to concentrate on saving the Hoopoe. It has afterall got a much nicer head covering.

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