There is a road sign behind the golf course, near Bauer Berrisch’s farm which always makes me imagine giant toads hopping out of the woods.
A little tip to anyone living in or around Meerbusch. It seems to be a very good year for sloes. These are a native form of wild plum, quite bitter, but when combined with gin and sugar makes a magical concoction called sloe gin.
The German term for the bush is Schwarzdorn, so called because in spring the flowers appear before the leaves, so the bushes are black prickly twigs covered with white flowers.
Meerbusch boasts a fantastic Stadtwald or public forest which is open to everyone to walk in. It is a mixed forest with quite a variety of deciduous (beech, oak, sycamore) and evergreen (pine) trees.
Sadly Meerbusch has been suffering, like so much of Germany, with a combination of extreme weather and airborne disease which in particular is affecting the pines. Wherever you look it seems that the evergreens are dying off.
Let’s hope that enough survive to provide the foundation of new growth in the future.
One of the sources I used while writing The Devil’s Missal was the journal of Steven Jan de Geuns, a Dutch academic who travelled extensively through Germany in the company of Alexander von Humboldt, passing through Meerbusch on 26th October 1789.
De Geuns waxed lyrical about Krefeld, calling it a beautiful city, clean and the closest to a Dutch city that he had seen (being a Dutchman himself, presumably this was high praise). His sightseeing tour of the city appears to have consisted of a tour of several factories. Meerbusch is mentioned only as consisting of fertile agricultural land. Which sounds about right for the period.
One of the most famous sons of Meerbusch was Ewald Mataré (1887 – 1965) – a renowned sculptor and artist. Alongside his famous fountain which sits next to the station at Landsknecht, he is also honoured as the namesake of the Mataré Gymnasium, the grammar school in Meerbusch.
The weather here tends to approach from the west. Yesterday around dusk a storm was approaching, which made for beautiful skies over the cabbage fields, when I walked out briefly to post a letter.
Some people favour geraniums and hanging baskets, others prefer wind-chimes and gnomes. My favourite Meerbusch balcony has gone for the full Jurassic Park effect. I doff my cap to you, dear Dinosaur-balcony-family! Your outdoor paradise is awesome.
Just look at this lovely Rhine landscape painting by Dr. Charlotte Boller-Dörper showing the scenery around Meerbusch-Büderich. Some parts of the flood plain are still common land and shepherd are permitted to graze their flocks there. You sometimes even see them in Düsseldorf near the Oberkassel bridge.
At the entrance to the cemetary in Büderich, just to the right as you go in, there is a memorial sculpture by Peter Rübsam, erected in 1988, consisting of seven basalt pillars, each with a bronze plaque in front of it. On each plaque is written one word: Dachau, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, Riga-Kaiserswald, Treblinka, Maidanek, Auschwitz