I can't remember if I've mentioned the bells yet.
Well: we live about 200 meters from the local Catholic church. Like a lot of churches in this part of Germany, it's oversized -- built in the 18th century to serve the whole district, not just one village. It can hold several hundred people, the steeple is over 100 feet (30 meters) tall, and the bells... well, the bells are loud. And they ring every quarter hour.
It's a good thing I like bells. If I didn't, our life here would be... difficult.
So the bells are part of our life here, ringing quarters and hours all day and all night. I hear them with one ear in the morning when getting the boys ready for school; I hear them in bed at night before sleep. It's nice.
Except now there are no bells. Good Friday and Holy Saturday they're shut off, and they stay off until Easter. Mourning, yah? It's a Catholic and traditional-minded town.
And it's nice in its own way. For a couple of days, anyway. I like the bells, but I like having a day or two without the bells.
One other interesting tradition: groups of children, aged maybe 10 to 14 or so, go around the town several times a day with noisemakers. (Claudia tells me it's only the altar kids. Huh.) And when I say "noisemaker", I mean a very particular, strange sort of device that I'd never seen or heard before. It's made of wood, it's bigger than a breadbox, it can be carried on straps, and it's "played" by turning a crank. The noise it makes is distinctive -- a sort of roaring rushing bellow -- and really very loud. They started before dawn on Good Friday, and they've been on and off since. I'm guessing this is a pagan survival, maybe something to do with the "dead days" when Christ is away. Anyone who knows more is welcome to comment.
Additional from Claudia: (1) there's an old, probably medieval legend that when Christ died, the tongues of the church bells all flew off to Rome. (Why Rome? Hey, it's medieval.) Which is why they couldn't ring, I guess. (2) The noisemakers are in some part a replacement for the bells -- except they only go around four times per day, at 6 and 12 in the morning and evening. Huh.
Picture courtesy www.das-grabfeld.de
Otherwise, it's... quiet. Beautiful spring weather, buds turning to leaves, lots of yard work.