Friday, April 29, 2011

Not What you Expected?

The other day I posted about being three days behind in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and vowed to catch up. Well, so much for that. Even though I posted, I missed a few more days and am now four days behind. I hadn't planned on that. Perhaps my U word for today should be unplanned. That would be fitting.

For today's post, I'd like to welcome you into my world. I live in a small village in Germany. I'm not sure what the current population is but I would guess it is less than 800 people. In former times many farmers lived here, the unpaved roads saw more tractor traffic than cars, and the hills I can see from my kitchen window were once home to rows and rows of grapes. How things change. In the past few years much talk regarding the heavy traffic on the main road has been discussed. We still have tractor traffic occasionally, but these are more of what you might call hobby farmers. There is only one man that I'd consider a real farmer since he has several cows and fields, but one can no longer call this a farming community. Also, though the hills still remain, there are no vineyards there. Well, not real vineyards. There are two plots of land which have grapes planted.

For the past several years, he has been making wine. Sometimes red, sometimes white. Both were good, but I thought the white was exceptional. He only made enough for our own consumption and entertaining, and he got the grapes from a winery. You can do that here. Buy grapes, pressed, from local vintners. Then we had the great fortune of acquiring a plot of land in the hills. We noticed that another family had several rows of grapes growing, so my husband, Stefan, decided the plant some as well. Since good, inexpensive red wine is readily available in Germany (there are wineries all over Rems-Murr-Kreis and we often go for long strolls through the vineyards on a Sunday afternoon) we decided to grow white grapes, a variety called Johanniter. I am not sure of the English translation and the online translator offered no help.

If you are a wine-lover, you'll know that it takes about seven years until the vines produce grapes worthy of wine. Our young grapevines are coming along fine, and we often walk up to check on them. Once a few wild boar had trampled through our property and made a mess but the saplings were unharmed. After the first winter, two plants didn't survive. We are glad the early stages are going well.

Two weeks ago we drove the car up, a bunch of gardening equipment in the trunk. We spent about an hour working, then took a few minutes to admire the view. We have a great vantage point over the village. Then we pack our supplies and started driving down the narrow, winding paths. When we got to where the path meets the main road into town, my husband turned right instead of left. “If you're not in a hurry to get home, I'd like to show you something,” he said. I agreed, and we continued out of town, up through the next town and down some winding country roads. When we got out to the motorcycle course where we watch the International Motorcross competition each year, I started to wonder where heck he was taking me. I asked but he only replied with, “You'll see.” So I sat and wondered a bit more. As I pondered our destination, a flower field came into view. These are common in our area. We even have a small one in our own village. The owners, possibly farmers, plant a variety of flowers. When they are in bloom, you can go pick them. A small stand has a can or wooden container set under the sign indicating the price. Often a knife also is made available for cutting the stalks. Yep...I said knife. Just sitting there waiting for someone to use it. It makes me laugh a bit, because I know a few of my American friends would be screaming, “Oh, my God. They have a knife just sitting there and anyone could pick it up and use it!!!” Well, to be honest, it happens a lot. Crazy people come out and use cut flowers! In the ten years we've been here, I haven't heard of any being stolen or any incidents happening.

In any case, this huge field came into view, full of nothing but tulips, several varieities and many colors. Cream-colored, yellow, mandarin, deep violet, pink. Of course, there were several shades of red-- a true red, crimson, scarlet, burgundy. I mentioned how beautiful it looked and he said, “I thought you'd like it. Want to pick some?” He pulled over into the lot, and we did just that. Two other people were also building bouquets as they walked up one row and down the other.

On the way home I sat thinking what a beautiful bunch of flowers we'd selected and how it is those unplanned moments, those little extras that we sandwich in between all the routine and common, that make life enjoyable. (It also helps to have an awesome husband, but that is another story.) Speaking of stories, here is a word of advice for all my writer friends. Don't forget the unplanned. No one wants to read a short story or book where everything the plot is predictable. Even characters shouldn't be totally predictable. A protagonist can't be bad all the time. Let the poor guy shed a tear when he thinks about that tragic moment in his past. Let him help some old lady cross the street. Heck, he could even have a dog that he treats like a King. And that main character you love so much—guess what? He or she has flaws. Let them show. Your characters need to be realistic. No one can be brave all the time or always confident or eternally cheerful. Let them test their boundaries, show their fears, make mistakes. After all, no one is perfect. The moment one of your lead subjects steps out of character is the time our interest peaks. We think, “Gee, I wasn't expecting that.”

And another thing...step out of character yourself some times. Go ahead. Have a little fun. Maybe try something new. You might freak your friends out a bit. Of course, you might surprise them in a good way. One thing is for certain. You'll learn something about yourself in the process.

In my O post, I spoke about how I learned the meaning of ornery. I learned it when I stepped out of character, and I learned a lot about myself that day. Do you have a tale about a time you stepped out of character. If so, share it will me in the comments section. I'd love to hear it. Hey, even if you hadn't planned on commenting here, I dare you. Go ahead and do it. Make me smile.


Nikki said...

LOVED this post, Linda!! It made me smile :)

My first thought was of my mama. My dad's a comedian and doesn't take anything seriously, so she's always been the straight laced one. But I remember when I was only 6 or 7 hearing a racket in the kitchen and when I went to investigate I found my no nonsense mother playing drums with 2 spoons on the pots and pans. She invited me to play with her and we drug out every pot in the house and laughed and laughed. It is one of my most vivid memories of my childhood. This was a nice reminder. Thank you :)

Nikki said...

enjoyed hearing about your home as well! :)

Josh Hoyt said...

Sounds lovely! My sister lives in Germany small world:)

nutschell said...

sounds like you live in a lovely place :) thanks for sharing this--it gave me a little break from the city life.
Great meeting you through the A-Z:)

J.L. Campbell said...

I'm doing the rounds of those blogs I still haven't visited in the challenge and came across yours. This post made a nice change of past. The idea of being able to make up my own bouquet and then pay is a strange one, but I see the charm and trust in it. Tells me we still live in a civilized world. I don't often have rustic moments like you described, so being here was a trip. :D Stepping out of character is good. Nice to 'meet' you.

Linda H. said...

Sorry I am late responding. I'm not feeling well lately.

Nikki, glad you enjoyed it.
Josh, where in Germany? I'm near Stuttgart.
Thanks, nutshell.
J.L., thanks so much for stopping by. I, too, didn't get around to all the blogs. There are just too many and not enough time.