I spent a weekend in Mittelrheintal, a region of vineyards and castles, wine and tourists. I went to the history museum in Bingen to check out the St. Hildegard exhibit and it turned out they also have the grave goods from a 2nd century surgeon. Really interesting stuff. I’ve posted my photo album here.

The most thrilling part of the trip was using my new German-language field guides. Just a couple weeks ago I was at the Berlin botanical garden and finally felt my German is good enough to make it worthwhile to get the local field guides. I spent many hours in the woods, slowly working my way through tree descriptions, learning botanical German word-by-word. I took lots of pictures of plaques in the Hildegard garden and in the Sans Souci palace garden and I hope to work on translating them and posting them here. Who knows how much time I’ll find for that project. Still, I’m excited that I’m to the point where I can begin to serve as a translator of German herb information into English, on however small a scale.

Up on the mountain by the castle, a hazel shrub grabbed my attention. It’s been an ongoing theme. Everywhere I’ve been since moving to the European continent, Hazel has greeted me. This time, the message was loud and clear: “You belong where Hazel grows.” The distribution of Hazel is my territory. I poked around on the internet and learned that Hazel was the pioneer tree after glacial retreat. With it’s leaves delicious for baby butterflies, nuts for mammals small to large, and straight, fast-growing wood for people who cut and build and burn, it’s the edge tree that so many others follow as forests spread.

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