Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day . . . May Day!

The Spring clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter's sadness

Today is May Day, the beginning of the month of Maying; and in keeping with the most recent post of Rosemary over at Where Five Valleys Meet, I decided to go a Maying myself - 21st Century style - armed with my digital camera. 
I am in search of May blossom to bring back to the apartment, to decorate and perfume the kitchen. 

Why not come with me, and keep me company on this Maying Day!

Stepping outside the front door you can see what a difference two weeks and some sun has done: 
I am setting out early.  It is a public holiday today so I decided that 9ish is a good time.  No one is out and we can take our time...

I see that the grass has become very lush:

Turning left I walked around the avenue and then took a photograph looking back along the old river bed:
The bramble bushes look a little tired and raggedy but the rest is nicely decked out in Spring greenery.
A bit further on and I can see that some blossom is out:

Keeping a steady pace, I go around the corner:

And down below is blossom a-plenty (but is it May blossom?)

Alas no.
There is Cherry Laurel:

Apple Blossom:

And Pear Blossom:
But no May blossom.
Never mind though, isn't it a lovely sight to see on this nice Spring morning. It makes the heart glad and lifts the spirits that have been dampened well down by the long grey winter:

Not all the blossom is white and pink however:

Continuing to walk along the old river bed, I come to the old bridge:

When Kaiserswerth was an island it was connected to the mainland by this bridge.  Nowadays the River has changed course and the old bridge is landlocked and the victim of indiscriminate graffiti.  Sometimes our one homeless man sleeps under it (when the weather is warm).  He has a caste over one eye and is often happily sozzled.  He always has time for a cheery 'hallo' in passing.  He is not here this morning.  He could well be ensconced, still fast asleep up near the old castle.
Turning right I walk up the pathway to the street and on to the bridge itself.
Kaiserswerth is deserted as many of the good burgers of our village are still having their breakfast, or like AGA are reclining in bed.  That building on the right is the one tall building in the village.  It was built by the National Socialist Government as a 'bunker' prior to WWII.  I always thought that bunkers were underground however I am assured that this is a bunker.  It is now rather 'fancy' apartments:

We are proud of our bridge.  This is the old marker that sits on the landward side:

On the opposite side to the double headed eagle is the stone that commemorates the fact that Klemens Augustus of Bavaria, as a patron of Kaiserswerth, renovated the bridge:

Klemens was the Archbishop of Koeln (Cologne) and a powerful man in politics because back when he was archbishop, he was also an elector of the Holy Roman Empire.  Here he is in his garb as Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights:
Thanks Wikipedia

Looking over the other side of the bridge, I see that the May Pole is up and ready for action:

Or rather it would be except that this year there is some building works going on and while the May Pole is up, there will be no dancing around it as it is behind some construction fencing:
 I don't know for certain what they are doing.  I 'think' that they are shoring up the bank near the old museum:

Luckily there is still room for the Bitburger beer waggon to be set up:
(They have been storing this in the fire station carpark, near to our apartment. I saw it last night)
However I am not concerned with beer this morning, but with continuing on my May walk and so I turn back to look down the path I had walked along earlier:
 It is so good to see everything looking green and verdant.
Everything is either in bloom, or nearly so.
The often inconspicuous blossom of the trees:

Back down on the pathway again, I see all sorts of flowers:

I walk back to the pear trees and walking through some bushes, entered the large park:
 A bit further on and we come to the site of the old garden allotments:
Up until about three years ago this area was filled with flourishing garden allotments.  The Town Council however ended the leases, evicted the tenants, pulled up the garden beds and little summer houses, and turned the area in to a park.  For people like me it is lovely.  People can walk their dogs, play with the children, have picnics etc but I wonder what the people who had the allotments think...

I was a little too late to see the magnolia blossoms however there were still a few left on the branches:

Here is a view across the park.  One allotment remains.  You can see the potting shed.  I wonder why that particular one remains.  Some ancient law called into play?  Perhaps it is the burgermeister's father's allotment!

Continuing with my Maying I come across AGA's nemesis: Birch blossom (catkins):

This is what has been giving him hay fever/allergies for the past two weeks.  Once it has dissipated them his asthmatic cough symptoms disappear:

The ground is liberally sprinkled with dandelions:

We tend to ignore the dandelion but what a glorious flower it produces:
 After which will come the wish-making 'clocks'...

 More apple blossom:

More flowers starring the ground beneath my feet:

I see that the dreaded stinging-nettle is flourishing!

But still no May blossom...

Looking back across the old river bed I can see our apartment building through the trees.  The middle two windows are our apartment:

Periwinkle:  I always liked this flower:

Willow trees in 'bloom':

 Apart from the natural glories of this First Day of May, I obtained another more secular reward. A 20 euro note laying abandoned in the grass.  I give it a new home in my pocket!:

I wander over to take a look through the fence of the remaining allotment.  I see they have some nice tulips flowering:

It feels as though we are out on the country but a short walk away is the main road into Dusseldorf:

One of my favourite flowers is the Forget-me-not:

Who can remain impervious to the enchantment of those pale blue flowers with their golden centres?

May is also the month in the (Roman) Catholic Calendar that is specially dedicated to Our Lady, while the First of May is the feast day of St Joseph the Worker.  This flower always reminds me of them and their lives of sacrifice.

Continuing on my walk I come out onto the pastures that are part of the old river bed.  That house up there is at the end of our avenue.
I would like to live in that house! It has a lovely circular driveway and an automatic wrought iron gate decorated with oak leaves. It marks the spot of one of the old town wall towers when Kaiserswerth was fortified.  It is interesting to think that once upon a time Spanish boats were sailing around here, bombing the place!

These days it is horses rather than boats,  They wander through a sea of grass.  I like the look of this horse:
 This one looks like a race horse:

More flowers.
A primrose:
A white bluebell:
A long birdbox up in one of the trees.  I have no idea what bird would want to go in there.  It is very long but with a small hole for the entrance:

Speaking of birds, the air is filled with their song.  I see lots of Blackbirds, Robins and Wood pigeons.  Ravens fly about.  Our neighbourhood Buzzards make an appearance to a general raucous carry-on as magpies and ravens fly up to mob them.  And there are parrots:
Thank you Wikipedia
Rose-ringed parakeets.  I didn't take this photograph as these birds are too fast for this very amateur photographer.  They live all around here in Kaiserswerth and my RSPB Book of Birds calls them Ring Necked Parakeets and states they  live all over the place, from England to Istanbul.  IT describes their sound as being loud squealing, squawking calls: a very apt description.

Slowly I wend my way back home and soon I am at our front door once more.  I have been out for nearly one hour (!) but I have not found the object of my Maying. . .

The plant itself is easy enough to find as one of them is on the slopes, right near our building:

It is of course the Hawthorn.  The plant that provides the 'May', the flower, so evocative of this month.  But after a long long winter the Hawthorn is still biding its time.  Its flowers are still jealously kept from sight.
Something however tells me that it won't be too long now before all is revealed.  I shall be sure to share it with you when they appear.
I hope you enjoyed taking this May Day morning walk with me!


  1. Hi Kirk, These Spring photos make me miss Ohio more than ever--the resemblance is remarkable. I love all of those apple-fruit tree blossoms--do you return later for the fruit?

    One item I particularly noticed here was the brick/stone arched bridge, which adds so much elegance to the landscape. It seems that now they can only build ugly concrete monstrosities that start eroding within a year. When will they learn that there is value beyond the utilitarian?
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Hi Jim,
      How right you are are. I dislike utilitarianism. Others may disagree but I find no beauty in it. It often, as you say, begins to look worn and distinctly shabby almost immediately. I guess that it is often a cheaper alternative that looks nice and shiny when finished but soon looses its appeal. And bare concrete stains so easily too.

      We are never quick enough to get the fruit. The gipsies take the lot for some reason just before they are ready to pick. You will be thinking to yourself: it would be nice to get a few of those pears and the next thing you know they are all gone!
      When we were first here some areas would be filled with wild violets but then a few years ago, when they still in flower, someone came and uprooted the lot! Even now you get one or two or perhaps s small clump. It will take few more years yet until they are back to their former people. Some people eh!?

  2. Wow! Really beautiful May Day! what a diference! And of course I've enjoyed a lot the walk! Thanks for sharing it


    1. Dear Marina,
      It was a pleasure to take you on this walk with me.
      I am not sure about there in Spain but up here the change from winter to spring is very dramatic.

  3. I wonder if we are all feeling so excited about the tangible arrival of spring this year following such a long, long winter?
    The photo of the trees near to your apartment has changed so dramatically in what seems like the blink of an eye. The green this year appears really lush, and I have actually fallen in love with our lawn - it is looking so perfect and making a wonderful backdrop to all our flowers.
    I feel sorry for AGA with that wretched Birch pollen - one year we had a load that came over here on the wind from Sweden, and it irritated my eyes dreadfully. Normally I have no trouble. Have you ever seen pollen grains under a microscope? they look like little sputniks and that is where the problem lies.
    Thanks for the lovely walk Kirk, it should be a few days only before your elusive May is out in the hedgerows.
    It was kind of you to include a link to my blog - thank you.

    1. Dear Rosemary,
      I think it has been especially exciting this year, given that we have had such a long grey winter. The sudden change from browns and greys to lush green and floral profusion has excited even the most jaded among us.
      Yes I have seen those pollen grains. They are miniature works of art aren't they. I am hoping that their effects of AGA and his ilk will soon be over.
      It was a pleasure to include a link to your blog. It is one of the ones I love to read!

  4. What a beautiful morning for a long walk! I love this time of year when the flowering trees are in full bloom....dogwoods, redbuds, fruit trees, etc. I also would like to live in that beautiful house. You and AGA can come over for tea. I'll be sure to pick up some eclairs for AGA and all of us :) Happy May Day! x Loi

    1. Dear Loi,
      Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons.

      I can't wait for the day when AGA and I (like you and Tom) have our own beautiful garden. In the meantime this park is my garden and I enjoy walking through it.

      As for that house - I will arm wrestle you for it ;-)

  5. I'm amazed, Kirk, that you get to live in such a pretty village in an apartment. The best of both worlds, Kaiserwerth must be - all you have to do is get the house at the end of the avenue!
    Best to you,

    1. Thanks Faisal,
      It is rather nice living here. We have our moments of course but I shall have many happy memories to take with me when we eventually leave.
      Actually that house is apartments too but if I had the money I would buy it and convert it back into a one family house. Then I would invite you over to stay!
      Bye for now,

  6. Kirk....seriously? This is one of the most lovely walks I have ever been taken on! The greenery, the it all, including the history. You are fabulous to put in the time to share this with us. Thanks for sharing spring in your corner of the world.

    1. Why thank you ND! I usually go for a walk on May Day morning but this time I thought I would be a real blogger and take you all with me.
      It is lovely - and a lovely time of the year. I am writing this whilst in the sitting room and I can look out and see all that lovely greenery where only a short while ago there was bare 'sticks'...

  7. Hi, Kirk,

    I didn't know people still danced around the May Pole — that must be a delightful sight to watch, and a peek into the past.

    The difference of two weeks in your neighborhood is amazing, and I have to admit that I miss such spectacular changes of season (here in Florida the changes are much more subtle).

    Incidentally, those rose-ringed parakeets — or their close cousins — reside here too, though we refer to them as parrots. Here, they come in clusters of a dozen or so, and when they land in my trees, I rush out to shoo them away! Otherwise, there will be no peace for days — their sound is deafeningly raucous.

    1. Dear Mark,
      May Pole dancing is still big here. Especially in the country but it children rather adults that do it.
      You are right, the changes have been spectacular. This is especially so because it has been so grey and so cold for so long and suddenly, the warm spell worked like magic!
      In Melbourne we have something worse that those parrots - it is the sulphur crested cockatoos: raucous isn't the word!

  8. Kirk, I had a lovely walk with you through your village. I love the old bridge and blooming park.
    It's pity that tenants lost their allotments. Why do always decide: park or allotments and not: park and allotments?
    One can have a rest walking in a park and another one is growing tulips.
    You're lucky, have found money, might it was your Maying?

    1. Dear Nadezda,
      My father was always the one to find money when we were out and about. I think I have inherited his luck.
      Yes it is a pity about the allotments. People don't seem to matter much anymore when Town Councils make decisions.
      I'm glad that you enjoy taking a walk with me!
      Bye for now

  9. Hi Kirk,

    I enjoyed 'our' May day strole trhough the countryside and your town. How pretty the young green and blossoms look on the trees. The trees in our home town look the same - absolutely enchanting!

    Ah, I see you have those green parrots as well. We have masses of them at our allotment complex. They eat practically everything!!!! They are one of the reasons I no longer have a vegetable garden. They do look very pretty though.

    Wishing you and Aga a happy weekend! Enjoy the sunshine :-)

    Madelief x

  10. HI Madelief,
    Thank you for coming with me on my stroll.
    Those parrots don't do us much damage as there isn't that many of them but I can see them damaging vegetables. In Australia we have cockatoos that do the same thing. And they are so noisy!
    We are enjoying this weekend. We have visitors staying and tomorrow we are motoring over to Tongeren for the day: a little shopping may be in order!
    Bye for now

  11. What an incredible walk. Thanks for sharing it. I feel like I was there. Truly a beautiful place to live.

    And thanks so much for finding that 20 euros I lost when I was onboard that ship bombing your shores. I'm back in Spain now, so feel free to send it when you have a moment.

    1. Dear Mitchell,
      Thank you for your kind comments - I must admit that it is a nice place to live - especially in Spring time.
      Your 20 euros has been gratefully received. At first we were going to put it towards the rebuilding of the castle but I changed my mind and spent it on myself ;-)
      We also have some of your cannonballs embedded in some of our older buildings. We will return them to you in the same way they arrived! Any old apartment buildings in Seville you want disposed of?

  12. Loved taking this walk with you Kirk. Thank you once again for sharing the beautiful area in which you live. Spring has arrived yet again even if in the middle of a long gray winter we begin to doubt its return.

    However, I'd probably be indoors as well as I am allergic to lots of beautiful things blooming outdoors at this time of year. Unfortunately. Still, I would watch from the window. :)

    A twenty Euro note? That's quite a haul. The most I ever found was thirteen dollars - the bills were scattered on the grass in front of the house. A happy day. :)

    Wonderful photos, by the way.

    1. Thank you Yvette,
      I am glad you enjoyed this little stroll through the park!
      Allergies are so debilitating aren't they. AGA can sympathise with this although very gradually it is getting better.

  13. Hello Kirk

    Your post depicts the most beautiful time of the year. It is my favourite month. Thank you for sharing your walk and what incredible beauty surrounds your home.

    Wishing you a week of joy

    Helen xx

    1. Dear Helen,
      Thank you for your comments. I will admit that at this time of year Kaiserswerth is a lovely place. Mind you I think that beauty is everywhere but sometimes you have to look a little harder to find it.
      I wish you a lovely, sun-filled week too!
      Bye for now

  14. Dear Kirk,
    Well, I've arrived late, but, I'm so happy to have joined you all for a glorious spring walk!!! That's the beauty of these virtual visits, I suppose... You and AGA are so lucky to live in beautiful Kaiserswerth-- and although your apartment is lovely, I can see why you're charmed by that beautiful house on the hill... Thank you for all of the wonderful pictures and interesting stories-- it's such a pleasure to come along!
    Warm regards,

  15. Only an hour! So well spent. The May Day name is given to the Bird Cherry in our area. I'm with you on utilitarianism. Close to my old home in Suffolk is a small Victorian red brick single lane bridge over the railway. It is a useful shortcut and used by many despite a standard traffic sign stating Unsafe Bridge. My father insists the sign is for people walking underneath it not on it, how this makes sense I have no idea.