Saturday, June 25, 2011

Volksmarching in the Rain

It's been raining a lot lately. Sort of a misting drizzle. It's the kind of day I'd say we could go do something outside and you'd look at me like I was short-bus special... maybe even wearing a helmet on the short-bus special. 
Most of the time between October and April was like that in Germany, or it felt like it... sometimes the rain was snow, but always the sky was gunmetal grey; so we got used to the damp. We carried umbrellas and raincoats a lot... not at school obviously. You'd rather be rained on than be caught with either a raincoat or an umbrella. Unless you were a girl. Girls were allowed either one. They weren't slickers or yellow rain coats. They were like London Fog type raincoats. Treated cloth of some sort. I don't know. They worked. 

Foto by FinePix S5200 on flickr
We would go on Volksmarches in them, the raincoats, not the helmets in the picture above... sometimes in the drizzling rain. 10 kilometer hikes in the rain are very different from 10km hikes in the dry. The hikes usually started on the edge of a town and promptly went off onto dirt roads and paths along fields. Mud would be all over your shoes immediately. Boots were a necessity. We all had good hiking boots. You had to. Once in a while you'd see a runner on one of the Volksmarches but they were rare. Mostly it was families out walking together in the misty rain and mud. Most of the time the cost of the Volksmarch was about 20DM (Deutsch Marks) I think. That was around 8 dollars at the time. When you'd get done you'd get a medal saying you'd finished it. They were pretty cool. I had a piece of material that hung on the wall where I'd pin my Volksmarching medals. I have no clue where that is now. I can't imagine I threw it away. Even I wouldn't do that! On the best Volksmarches about half way through the 10km march they would have a station serving cups of warm chicken broth in plastic cups. Those were nice. If it was even BETTER you would get fizzy mints at the end of the thing, in a pack similar to a pack of Pez candies. They were like those candies you put in your mouth that are typically citrus flavored and as soon as they hit your spit they turn into a foamy sugary goodness. Yeah... walking's fun if there's candy! :) 
I wish I'd had a digital camera then. Most of the pictures would have been taken through a ziploc bag... remember the rain? Yeah.  I remember the fog and low mists on the hills and low mountains of the Rhineland Pfalz with the cattle grazing on them and castles in the distance, sometimes we'd walk around them, or at their base... it was something to put one in a poetic mind. I can remember learning poems on some of the walks. Not all by any means, but sometimes Mom would teach me one. 

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!

That's by Emily Dickenson. It's one I memorized. Another was the “The Road Not Taken.” I remember that one still... the only other one I remember is "Flanders Field." That may have been all of them. If there were more I don't remember them.
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