Monday, April 07, 2008

Ausflug in der Moseltal

Did an Ausflug to the Mosel this weekend. And learned some interesting things.

Traben-Trarbach is the city where I lived while living in Germany. It’s a beautiful little town on both sides of the Mosel and it’s the home of some of the best wine on the river. About 5 KM up river is the village of Wolf whose name has nothing to do with the animal, rather a corruption of the Latin “vulva” meaning curve. The river makes a massive oxbow, forming a set of cliffs facing due south, the absolute best face for a vineyard in cold, rainy Germany. And it was there I spent most of my weekend.

The village’s website can be found here: And my ex-wife, with whom I’m still friendly (to the confusion of my current SO) lives in the house at the upper-left. Had breakfast there but I digress….

During the course of an evening in which I drank probably three months’ worth of Rieslings and Dornfelders you can’t get in the states, the topic turned, as it usually will during any discussion in Wolf, to wine. And of course, to wine production. And quite by accident to global warming. It seems that now every year every vintner can produce a Spätlese, a high-quality, high alcohol (or very sweet) wine requiring a longer growing season. Ten years ago, a Spätlese was not quite rare but not usual. And you can’t find a Kabinett, a lower grade, too much Spätlese around. When I helped harvest grapes here, you bundled up, it was cold in October. Now they harvest in T-shirts and shorts. They still produce very good wines – Riesling is perfectly adapted to the climate here and they’ve been producing from it for thousands of years. They just don’t produce Kabinett any more. The season, according to the vintners, is a month longer than it was ten years ago, when I left.

That, in climatic terms, is fast.

And of course you can’t have a round table with a bunch of Germans without a political discussion starting. I admire their engagement, their knowledge of us. How many Americans can name the German Chancellor? These village residents can name all our candidates and know where they stand, even to Hillary’s near-lies about dodging bullets in Tuzla (those flowers must have looked awfully threatening). They favor Obama, knowing that what America needs right now is a visionary. And reassuringly, although they realize Bush is an idiot and his Administration a catastrophe and a danger to the rest of the world, they aren’t anti-American. They’re engaged enough and their news media is good enough they realize it isn’t the American people gone bad, but the Government they elected. They’re against the American government but not the American people.

And so, after being treated like royalty by old friends and ex-family, I’m back in Frankfurt. Here, too, I detect no hatred of me as an American. And again, I’m surprised and delighted by the interest and engagement of the Germans in our country and our elections. They have hope of a renewal of the dream America represents here in “old Europe.” I hope we don’t let them down.

Bis demnächst,

Nosybear Dämon im Ausland

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