Can you have 2 places where you feel you belong? I guess so.
I got tapped for the March theme and I chose – there was a bit of pushback – “Heimat – a sense of belonging”
I grew up in New Zealand, left when I was 21, spent a couple of years in the UK and the last 40 odd years in Germany.
So it would be incongruous were I not to feel some sort of attachment to Rheinhessen, the rustic bit of Germany I’ve grown fond of.
It would also be incongruous were I not to feel the same way about New Zealand
The feeling you get when you fly over the rugged landscape that you grew up with on approach to Auckland, when the immigration officer says “Welcome home” as they stamp your passport (well, they used to – they’re a bit sullen these days…), when you walk across to the domestic terminal, wrapped in the humidity and the scent of sub-tropical plants and freshly mown grass tells me that THIS is where I belong, too.
That’s over on Not the Nelson Daily Photo.
But I’ve lived in a small village in Rheinhessen (the bit that surrounds Mainz and extends halfway to France) for more than half my life.
People can’t tell I’m not German, I speak the local dialect better than passably, people laugh at my jokes and plays on words and I just sort of fit in.
But this image nails it.
Berthold Schmitt was the 12th generation of vintners, his son Axel is the 13th.
They have a vineyard in Ober-Hilbersheim and we’ve known them for years. (Ms jb celebrated her 50th there last week. Sort of…).
In late August, they’ll open their courtyard, hire a good band, engage the local Farmers’ Wives to cook and invite people in for the afternoon and evening.
You sit on benches at long tables and talk to whoever sits opposite you. Or next to you or behind you.
Or Bertie as he wanders around, enjoying himself immensely.
There’s a saying in Mainz that if someone comes into a wine bar, looks around, doesn’t spot an empty table and leaves: “Des sinn Wissbadener” – “They’re from Wiesbaden”, the slightly haughty city across the river.
In Rheinhessen, you start chatting to folk on the market, in Paul’s Kaffeekommune, to the chap at the next table at La Galerie who convinced Marc Chagall to create windows for St Stephans.
That’s Heimat – a sense of belonging