A few months ago, during the height of Covid-19-time, I bought a wonderful edition of the fairy-tales of Die Gebrüder Grimm. Might have been the same longing that brought many people to start examining their family history - fairy tales are a bit the family lore of a nation.
The Gebrüder Grimm started to collect those tales from 1819 on - writing down what till then was only told verbatim - and thus endangered to get lost. They didn't add anything, and we are so thankful for their great work.
Fairy tales are for children, one often thinks - especially when you know only the sweet Disney movies. But a long long time ago, when mankind told these stories around open hearths or at the spinning wheel on long winter evenings, they were cultural transmission.
Some fairy tales are outright cruel. Some are not easy to understand. As a child I only loved those with a happy end, those which made me laugh. But now I see that a lot more of the wisdom of the not so nice tales is stored inside me too.
What I esteem: the fairytales taught children - different from nowadays overprotective helicopter parents (no chance to become that with triplets!) - that the world is a colourful but not always a peaceful place, that not all people are interested in that proud parents' Unique Sweet Child, as lovely and pure as it might be, and that the world sometimes is not fair, although fairy tales also often tell you that virtue is rewarded.
One of my favourite fairy tales are "The Bremer Stadtmusikanten" (The Town Musicians of Bremen, where I come from) - its mantra for living-on is :
"Something better than Death you will always be able to find."
I'll drink to that - and cling to the antiquated syntax!
Now to my adventure of getting lost:
"In the Olden Days when wishing still has helped..." (fairy tales often start like that) - so, in my modern language: the day before yesterday, I went to the next town by train to buy some bread, and, as the weather was hot and beautiful, decided to walk back to the little village where I (part-time) live now.
That would make about 3 km, and I thought I knew the way.
So Our Heroine started - with lovely fresh bread and no stones in her knapsack.
Two times she asked Friendly Strangers if she was still walking into the right direction - and got somehow muddled advice about being quicker on another route. She walked on confident.
When suddenly the road went uphill, she started to wonder. (Having a good sense of locality, why did she go further up, knowing that the little village nestled into a valley?)
After a while she saw an ugly Old Woman, accompanied by three barking dogs, coming out of the woods, and she asked her: "Is this the way to Arcadevillage?"
"Yes, my dear! Just go through that wood and you will be right there!"
Our Heroine overlooked the strange glint in those eyes, didn't notice the cackling and was afraid of those Cerberous dogs.
WELL... This was what followed:
After about seven miles through the wood and then many more miles through oven-hot dry fields she finally reached home.
"And if she hasn't died she is still alive". (Oh yes, she is!)
After a few deep breaths she looked up the name of that wood and that little river (and I swear it is the truth and nothing but the truth). It is: