So there we were: Walking to work.
AGA suggested taking a camera with us because it was snowing and we could get some photographs for my blog:
As we got nearer to our place of work I put the camera away and we chatted about the day and how pleased we were that the following week was half term holiday. . .
Then I stepped on a large piece of plastic hidden by the newly fallen snow.
The next thing I knew I was laying flat on my back involuntarily making a snow angel!
I was so lucky that AGA was with me as I don't think that I could have got up by myself at that moment, having hit my head on the pavement in the process of falling.
Without going into all the details, I hurt my hip and suffered mild concussion. I didn't have to stay in the hospital (although I was obliged to go there for a check) but I did have to stay home for the rest of the day and the next, however there was to be no computer, no TV and no watching DVDs.
I didn't mind so much as I was allowed to read and loving reading as I do, it was like experiencing guilt free laziness: reclining on the sofa, drinking tea and reading (or sleeping) all day long - and all on doctor's orders!
And it extended into the next day too, with my employers telling me to stay home and rest.
So I did.
* * * *
Lots of thoughts milled around my head - some of it revolving around the fact that I have always disliked the snow...
I'm not sure whether I have told you before but the place where we live is called Kaiserswerth. It is an ancient settlement dating back to at least the 7th Century, when the English missionary Swidbert (known in German as Suitbertus) was given Kaiserswerth and asked to set up a small monastery there.
All sorts of things have happened since that time: Friedrich Barbarossa built a huge fortress here, the town was invaded at various times by the Spanish, the Hessians, the Brandenburgers, the Dutch and the French. Napoleon was here. So was Florence Nightingale. American soldiers were here too, towards the end of WWII. King Heinrich IV was kidnapped from Kaiserswerth by the archbishop of Koeln during a palace power struggle in the Middle Ages; and the town was given control of the lucrative collection of tolls on the Rhein.
And during all that time Kaiserswerth was an island. At its peak it looked liked this:
(This photograph comes from the Kaiserswerther Brudershaft (www.kaiserswerther-bruderschaft.de). and I have seen the original painting displayed within the shoeshop in the High Street.)
Nowadays, Kaiserswerth looks like this. You can see the now-ruined Barbarossa's fortress in the foreground on the river bank (It was blown up by the Spanish in 1702, or thereabouts):
Both of these photographs comes from this website: http://www.bilderbuch-duesseldorf.de/Fotos/kaiserswerth
Kaiserwerth is no longer an island because (I am told) the Rhein silted up. I don't know when this happened but in this photograph, the green belt that surrounds the town is the old river bed. It goes all the way around and to enter Kaiserswerth, you cross a bridge that is near to the tall building on the right of the photo although now all that is below it is the town ditch which has been made into a park.
Kaiserswerth is only about 28m above sea level. The land is very flat which is ideal for bike riding.
It is also ideal for flooding.
The water table is close to the surface and it doesn't taken much for it to cause problems. Then we get this:
The Rhein is on the left of the fencing. The path along the town walls is (submerged) to the right.
And so all this snow falling, then melting and then being followed by more snow, is not helping matters. On Saturday I went down to the Rhein to take a look:
It is getting higher - and faster too. Those branches are the tops of the trees that border the small stony beaches that are visible in summer. The pole in the top right photograph indicates where cars usually drive to board the ferry to the other side of the river...
The fields were the farmer keeps his horses in the summer, and where a few weeks earlier the children were whizzing about on their sleds, is now a large lake:
Our apartment building is at the back of old Kaiserswerth, where the town walls used to be. It overlooks the old river bed. Interestingly, water is appearing there too as the ground water rises from beneath the surface:
And directly opposite us, albeit 'down in the ditch' the water has suddenly appeared so that over the space of the week it has changed from a snowy place to walk the dog, to a series of serpentine ponds:
As long as it remains like this and doesn't get much higher and cause the town flood barriers to be set up, we will continue to find it all rather exciting. . .
And so, as the water rises, we seek comfort in simple things:
Flowers: harbingers of Spring and the return of the sun.
And of course cups of tea . . . and home-made Eccles cakes (you just can't have enough of them at this time of year).
And cherry tart:
(made by me!)