animals · beauty · birds · cool photos · Germany · love love love · poland · Road Trip · save our world

Brought to you by the Klapperstorch

Der Klapperstorch or the White Stork to us English speaking folks. It is called der Klapperstorch in German because of the sound it makes with its beak. The adult White Stork’s main sound is noisy bill-clattering, which has been likened to distant machine gun fire. The bird makes these sounds by rapidly opening and closing its beak so that a knocking sound is made each time its beak closes. The clattering is amplified by its throat pouch. Used in a variety of social interactions, bill-clattering generally grows louder the longer it lasts, and takes on distinctive rhythms depending on the situation—for example, slower during copulation and briefer when given as an alarm call. Like the adults, young also clatter their beaks.The up-down display is used for a number of interactions with other members of the species. Here a stork quickly throws its head backwards so that its crown rests on its back before slowly bringing its head and neck forwards again, and this is repeated several times. The display is used as a greeting between birds, post coitus, and also as a threat display. Breeding pairs use this display, as well as crouching forward with the tails cocked and wings extended.

Wouldn’t that be awesome if humans used those behaviors to show greetings, or post coitus or when threatened? Your mate throws his head back and forth showing pleasure from the moment – or when greeting his best friends? Doesn’t  matter which, it is all the same emotion.

Back to the birds. When my parents and I were leaving Poland my mom shouted (way too early in the morning), “Did you see that?!”. I flipped the car around and lo and behold there was this stork nest!! Have you ever seen a nest with storks in it? The nest was huge and these two adorable (yes, adorable) storks just hanging out.

The White Stork breeds in open farmland areas with access to marshy wetlands (this nest was next to a large pond), building a large stick nest in trees, on buildings, or on purpose-built man-made platforms. Each nest is 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) in-depth, 0.8–1.5 m (2.6–4.9 ft) in diameter, and 60–250 kg (130–550 lb) in weight. Nests are built in loose colonies. Not persecuted as it is viewed as a good omen, it often nests close to human habitation; in southern Europe, nests can be seen on churches and other buildings.

I had noticed these large nest of twigs, mostly on top of homes, where the chimney was, I wondered why they would leave the nest there, because you cannot use your chimney with a stork nest on top of it. But since the storks do migrate to Africa in the winter maybe they would take the nest down when the migrated? And put it back when it was spring? Not sure, but once I first saw them, I noticed the nests everywhere.

Storks!! They bring babies, have you heard? According to northern European legend, the stork is responsible for bringing babies to new parents. The legend is very ancient, but was popularised by a 19th century Hans Christian Andersen story called The Storks. German folklore held that storks found babies in caves or marshes and brought them to households in a basket on their backs or held in their beaks. These caves contained adebarsteine or “stork stones”. The babies would then be given to the mother or dropped down the chimney. Households would notify when they wanted children by placing sweets for the stork on the window sill. From there the folklore has spread around the world to countries such as the Philippines and South America.

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familia · poland · Road Trip · travel

Now We Go To Poland, eh?

Ah, that headline sounds more Russian, no? Which reminds me of this movie clip I keep seeing with Anna Farris (love her). In the movie, What’s Your Number, there is a scene where she runs into an ex-boyfriend who is British and apparently he thinks she is British too. Until she can’t keep up with the accent and breaks out into a Russian accent saying, “What do you say, a little dancing, eh?” Makes me laugh every. time.

POLAND! I wish walls and trees and roads could talk. Lots of wars here. There was such a drastic difference between Germany and Poland. While Poland is clean and the people seem happy the buildings, roads, cars, fashion all seem a bit stuck. The buildings are mostly bland, grey concrete or just older and a bit rundown. The roads are bumpier, smaller and people just pass when they want. A car in the opposite lane would pass a car in front of it with me coming straight towards them. Everyone just moves as far to the right so literally three cars can pass each other at once. And all of the buses looked they were from 1970.

Nevertheless, I had a lovely time in Poland. Szczecin was first stop.

Our main reason for stopping here was so mom could find more information on her (my) relatives. She made a contact, his name was Marek, and he helped her by speaking to the office that holds all of the registry books. We were able to see books documenting marriages, births, deaths anywhere from the year 1800 – 1920. We would have never been able to look at these books without Marek’s help. The Polish people don’t speak much English and even if they did Marek had to fight a bit to allow the clerk to let us see them.

So the three of us; my mom, my dad and myself poured over these books for several hours. It took awhile to get used to handwriting and exactly what you were looking at; whether it was a marriage or a birth, etc. And anything that had the name Schultz or Müller was something to write down for mom to go through later to see if anything matched. My mom actually found the something she had already known about, her great great great grandparents wedding but to see it written down in this book was an inspiring thing indeed.

After about five hours of researching we finally were finished with what we could find. We did a bit of sightseeing and we were again on our way, deeper into Poland towards the town of Bytow.

Saw the Prussian eagle everywhere
So many beautiful and very old buildings here in Szczecin

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art · familia · Germany · hotels · poland · Road Trip · travel

Parental Trip Finale

Get your kleenex ready, the finale is here.

Europe's oldest wooden pier, in Sopot, Poland.
Europe’s oldest wooden pier, in Sopot, Poland.

We drove for what seemed like weeks from Norway to Karlskrona, Sweden to catch the overnight ferry to Gdynia, Poland. I wasn’t expecting anything lavish, as it was the trucker’s cruise, possibly 90% of the clientele. The food was a mixture of meat and potatoes or mystery salad sandwiches. I went for a bag of chips and a red wine. The three of us crashed in our teeny tiny room with two bunk beds. I call top bunk! I don’t think anyone else was wanting it anyway….

Arriving in Poland, the police and canines were out and ready. We gave our passports, the dogs sniffed around the car and we were allowed to enter. We stayed outside of Gdansk for a few nights at this humongous hotel, the Hotel Sofitel Grand Sopot. It had an old time luxurious flair with a bit of The Shining feel to it. Our room was beyond large and from our balcony we looked out to the Baltic Sea and Europe’s oldest wooden pier. I went to the beach while my parents wandered around, and for lunch we found a delightful cafe that served sausages and beer. My dad was in heaven, so much that we had to go back the next day.

Now it was time to look for clues on mom’s side of the family. We drove to a town, Prtezoczyno – good try on pronouncing that one – and started the search. For some odd reason, my mom felt I was fluent in German and would be able to speak to any person and find what we were looking for…. while I stuttered and stammered in broken German we actually found the monument and church from her books. After hours of walking and searching we threw in the towel and headed home. Our guidebook told us to watch out for drunken peasants on the road, I never saw one though I really wanted to. Kind of like the times I drive through Maine and hope to see a moose but never do. Darn.

Next stop, Berlin! The German was meeting us there, I couldn’t wait to see him. We were booked at this hip hotel with good rates – Arte Luise Kunsthotel where each room is decorated by a renown artist, the entire room included in the concept. The next day was sightseeing sightseeing sightseeing: Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie, Berliner Dom, Tiergarten and Reichstag. Berlin is a freakin cool city loaded with history and new hotels, restaurants, art galleries at every turn. And in my love of architecture and homes – a penthouse suite looking over Tiergarten would do me quite nicely. I feel that the German people have suffered so much, and they still feel guilty for their past. That wall was torn down many years ago now, it is time to look towards the bright future and limitless possiblities. And they are.

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Our room at castle Schönburg, Germany

The last leg of our tour: The Black Forest, Friedberg (Elvis’ German army base) and then my favorite castle hotel ever, castle Schönburg, on the Rhine river. It was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. Until the 17th century the castle had a very changeable and martial history with many tribe and family fights. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate heritage war and it remained destroyed and in ruins for 2 centuries until an American of German ancestry restored it. Our room was fantastic, it was like living as Lady Fairlane (insert your Robin Hood fairytale name here). My parents had the queen sized bed while my sleeping quarters was a small bunk made at the bottom of one of the bookcases. I loved it. There was a door from our room that led to the walkway connecting several watch towers. My mom and I did some snooping around and the end of the walkway came to steep stairs leading down to total, complete pitch blackness. I decided to see what I could discover and after about ten steps I refused to go further. It was SPOOKY and as I turned for a picture I had a chill go down my spine, like someone was right behind me. I hauled ass out of there as fast as my lil feet would take me.

And then, what seemed to have started only a few days ago, came to an end. My parents left a little lighter in their wallet and suitcase load and flew back to Oklahoma. I will never forget this trip with my parents, it will forever be a fond memory full of laughter (mom and I giggled several times over the “Haben Sie Einen Gute Fahrt” signs – we couldn’t help it!), learning, defining and preserving our legacy and love. Thanks for the visit mom and dad. Ich liebe dich.