During our two week vacation in Germany, my family and I were fortunate enough to stay in the small town of Hinderzarten deep in the Black Woods Forest in the southern part of the country. Although we traveled extensively throughout the southern part of the nation, my fondest memory of the trip occurred in this small town.
On our way back from a hiking excursion, my brothers noticed that the town seemed to be preparing for some sort of festival. We pleaded with our parents to let us out of the car and to give us some euros—which they eventually did. We crossed the small meadow that divided the two separate sides of the town and began to wander up and down the street. The first thing we noticed, being boys, was the variety of food; they had everything from gyros, to waffles covered in powdered sugar, and simple German food. Everything was cheap. We of course settle for a traditional meal of bratwurst and German potato salad from the butcher’s shop followed up by delicious strudel from the nearby bakery.
With our stomachs full, we meandered over to hear the percussionists perform and remained there to hear the local chorus sing German folksongs. They were marvelous; the group could have passed for a professional chorus. Sadly, they did not sing for very long; however, they were followed up by and elderly gentleman playing an alpine horn. The range of notes he was able to play on the instrument were astounding, even more impressive was the speed at which he was capable of changing both pitch and note on the large instrument. He concluded his show just as the townsmen began to light the large cross-sections of logs that they had set in the street. My brothers and I soon concluded that the festivities were in celebration their logging season. Our assumption was proven correct our questioning of a local woman as to what the festivities were about. Regretfully, it began to rain, so we took cover under a temporary shelter.
To finish the night off, we met an African-Canadian man from Quebec. His friend had invited him to attend the celebration and to play his homemade xylophone. Sitting down, he deftly picked up his mallets and began racing across the instrument– playing a tune that sounded similar to the Mario theme song. The rain only served to complement his playing.
At the end of the night, I was deeply impressed by the sense of friendship and closeness among the local townspeople. Everyone in town had made a unique contribution to the celebration as a whole. Equally, everyone was respected and applauded for their unique gifts, whether they thanked the butcher for his meals or the musicians for their skills. There was an insurmountable sense of community at that celebration. I think Americans would enjoy each other more if they began similar local holidays.
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