We decided to give names to the different Airbnbs and places we would stay at. To be able to visualize them better. In alphabetic order and connected to a movie. So, our first Airbnb ‘A’ became Amelie pretty quickly.
We’ve moved out. There’s no apartment to go back to. This is not a holiday where we would be back in Berlin in 2 weeks.
The last weeks were so fast, so hectic, and with so many last minute decisions, I think both of us haven’t stopped and just breathed. And fully realized that we are now in the next chapter of our journey together.
These last minute decisions also brought us onto this former farm north of Regensburg, still partly in operation but mostly used for holiday apartments and event space. There is nothing around except human-managed nature: carp ponds for fishing, lakes from mining, crop fields for bio diesel, and new forests for logging. And good internet for work.
Originally, February would have been our long longed for holiday. Bridge and I wanted to do a roadtrip through France and Spain, maybe until Portugal. We haven’t been on a getaway that’s longer than 3 days since Norway in August 2020. And then the cats got sick and we couldn’t just leave them with friends. So, we cancelled the trip, skipped directly to the Airbnb life and now we’re here, the four of us, in our first place.
I am sitting at one of the ponds right now. There’s a little bench beneath a tall spruce. A small oak tree to the right is leaning into the pond, half on land, half in water. In the frosty mornings the sun rises from behind the forest to the left and paints the sky in ice-cold blues, pinks, and purples before everything turns golden. It’s quiet and calm except for the birds, mostly coal tits, and the rustling leaves that still stick to the oak. In Berlin there were sounds and noises everywhere and all the time, I realize. The cars outside on the street, the neighbor’s kid above, the garbage cans in the courtyard.
Our Airbnb is quite remote. The road leads to an old mill and then up to the highway which connects to towns to the left and the right within 20 minutes. But by foot you can’t reach a bakery within 60 minutes of walking one way.
Regular walks became one of our daily routines during the last months. In Berlin always around the block – a short, medium, or long round – to get up from the computer, have a chat, and a Wegbier (a ‚beer for the way‘). Here we include the small bumpy roads, forest paths, and tractor tracks through the fields to give us different loops depending on how much time we have before, between, and after online work days.
My favorite place stays the bench by the pond.
On our first evening, when we sat next to each other and were assessing our situation a kingfisher suddenly stopped by in the oak tree. He looked at us, we stared back holding our breaths, and it felt almost like all three of us realized how special this moment was before he flew away. Since then I come back in the early mornings and in the late afternoons to sit and wait to see him again, gliding over the half-frozen pond.
My body and mind are still buzzing from the many things that happened in the last weeks and months. It feels like ripples on the water’s surface from wind blowing across and currents swirling it up from below.
I am driven by the many to do’s my brain still fires at me – about my too many different work engagements but also about our life from now on.
How long do we need to book a place in advance? With two cats, the need for fast internet, and a certain budget, will it be easy to find something just a week before? Or do we need to plan longer? But where do we want to go next? How long would we stay? Where do I need to be? What is triggered by external commitments? What do we actually want?
We have booked two places already, each for a month to give the cats a chance to ease into this life. Well, we say it’s for the cats. I guess it’s more for us.
Bridge and I have to figure out new work setups with both of us in a room, both on Zoom calls, in a space not meant for two people to work. We set up a shared calendar to let each other know when there are meetings, German classes, online trainings – and when we have to drive to the vet to get the cats further checked up. And with no supermarket, no pharmacy, drugstore or anything around, we need to coordinate our supply tours, our needs, and wishes for dinner.
I would have not expected that our communication would be challenged again that much after living and working in a 1.5 room apartment for two years through a pandemic.
At the same time, I ponder questions on how to connect with a place, how to ground and to know it culturally and ecologically. How did the place look like 50, 100 years ago? Where does the tap water come from? What are local non-migratory birds? What are some migratory birds? Where does the garbage go? And when do the deer rut?
We explore the area with ecological monitoring and walks crisscross through the forest. The weekends with hikes, small villages, great cakes, and good friends in the region connect us to the place and to each other. We spent hours in Trachten shops (traditional clothing), chatting with the salespeople, and we practice greetings in dialect, especially on the hiking paths.
It needs almost 4 weeks to sink in that we don’t have a place to go back to anymore. The cats are still sick. Soon we will move on to our next place.
Trust the process, they say.
So, I will wait a bit longer for a kingfisher to stop by in the small oak tree and sit there with us just for a second.
|Town||Kemnathermühle, Bavaria, Germany|
|Bioregion (OneEarth)||European Interior Mixed Forests bioregion|
Special bird visitors to mention:
|Eisvogel (Kingfisher)||Two times in the oak tree and a couple of beautiful flights over the pond’s surface.|
|Eichelhäher (Eurasian Jay)||Calling above us in the otherwise quiet forest.|
|Always cheerful, always chatting.|
|Rescuing entangled lambs.||Bridget|
|Crocheting and mending clothes.||Leon|
|Driving a manual.||Bridget|
|Chicken watching||Viola & Westley|