Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label Theodor Fontane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theodor Fontane. Show all posts

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
inspired by Rosemary's blog "Where Five Valleys Meet"  and the first of her gorgeous photographs I 'republish' a little story from my garden blog "Britta's Gardening in High Heels". (The next post will be on the narrowboat).

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I sit in our garden in Hildesheim with a cup of tea and enjoy the sparkle and twinkle on the silky threads of the spiderwebs, glistening against the sunlight. When the air moves, silver and gold flash up.
Horizontal nets are spanned in the big box ball standing beside the rose arch, looking like miniature versions of the Olympic stadium in Munich
Delicate silver gossamer, elfine trampolines. 
They are better visible than the golden spider-webs that hang between the rose-twigs. 
When in the morning hundreds of dew drops hang inside them, drawing the spider threads down like heavy jewellery and throwing out sparks in the sun, they could jauntily take part in any contest of jewellers.
Yes: Today I’m having Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
For that breakfast the spider is waiting, too, though for her a less sparkling day would promise more booty. 
Nothing is so finely spun/ it will come up into the sunlight” wrote Theodor Fontane in “Under the Pear Tree”. 
But sometimes The Good needs a lot of time to triumph, and before the victims have discovered the gossamer it is too late for some of them: the sticky threads attach themselves around delicate wings, and by attempting to flee in panic they only entangle themselves deeper, till finally the Master of the Web puts an end to it all.
Then we have to grab the last relic of resource, then we ask for the word “Existence”, I hear from the terrace of my neighbour, the philosopher, who apparently is dictating an essay, just as I indulge in profound reflections upon Elusiveness and Beauty. 
The spider and I are eavesdropping - mesmerized.
“ We can turn towards the entities, die Wesenheiten, the things that ARE”, he continues, and the spider hopefully picks up knife and fork, “but then we have a problem.” 
Confused the spider drops its cutlery, because till now it didn’t have one.
How do we ascertain wether the entities are real or not?
This, my good man, the spider giggles, is very easy indeed. And bites into that, what still Is - but will have Been very soon.
The nature of Being”, “the Concrete”, “the Abstract”, all these words flutter airily past my ears, lightweight as spider threads. 
A little bit sticks, but you cannot grasp it… 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Poem - Handed on a Silver Platter

©Brigitta Huegel

I love the drawings of the Fifties, and sometimes, when I find a book on the fleamarket, I buy it - not because of its (sometimes quite silly) content, but because of the little sketches - so light, so happy, so carefree.
Of course I should add an illustration here and now - but I am to lazy at the moment to pick up my camera.
So I'll try to translate a little bit of a text from Anton Schnack (an author rightly forgotten by now; drawings by Max Schwinger) It is called "Flirt mit dem Alltag - Flirt with Everyday Life", which leads us through the year.
In August I found this sentence for the travelling gardener, which made me wonder:

"Also forgo on early apples and early pears voluntarily: they will be picked unfailingly by free-roaming lads."

Written in 1956.
Well: in the last decades I didn't see any lads nicking apples, or plums, or cherries.
Must have gone out of style.
Maybe it is the fault of the so-called helicopter-parents, hovering over their only child, driving it to violin- and Chinese-lessons - no time to roam through the neighbourhood.
Or fault of the supermarket - everything is there on the shelf.
I remember my astonishment when we still lived on our little island in Hildesheim that people didn't even take home plastic bags of already picked apples that somebody had kindly put in front of her garden gate. Maybe nobody knows how to make an apple pie anymore? Or doesn't care, being bone-idle, as Onslow in Keeping-up Appearances would say?
Well - if no lads had wanted any apples or pears ever, we would never have gotten Theodor Fontane's beautiful and wise poem, written in 1889 and still read today (if this doesn't impress you, maybe this will: "In 2007, the original manuscript of the poem was sold for 130.000 EUR at an auction at Berlin.):

Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck im Havelland  (rough translation by me)

Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck in Havelland: 
a pear tree in his garden stood, 
and when the time of golden autumn came, 
and the pears shone far and wide, 
then, when the clock chimed from the tower at noon, crammed  
the von Ribbeck both his pockets full, 
and when in his pattens came up a lad, 
he cried out: "Lad, do you want a pear?" (this is in dialect, can't translate that
And came a girl, he called "Little dear, 
come over, I have a pear!" 


Well - after his death his stingy son greedily protected the pears - but the old von Ribben ("von" means lower gentry)

but the old one, already anticipating, 
and full of distrust against his own son, 
he knew exactly, what he did then, 
when begging for a pear in his grave, 

You guess it: after three years a pear tree grows from the grave - serving pears for free.
Oh - come to think of it: a lot of things have changed from 1889:
- children prefer pineapples to apples 
- dialect is often extinguished 
- wooden pattens aren't worn anymore - they are replaced by plastic clogs 
- and if old von Ribbeck had offered his pears to little boys or girls, the stern members of child protective services would have cast more than one suspicious look at him. 

PS: the silver-plated fruit basket I found on a fleamarket too.

 ©Brigitta Huegel