Golden October

My youngest sun was born at the beginning of October and I cannot remember that we had any of his birthday parties inside. The last days of September and the first weeks of October are usually warm and sunny during the day and only at night the temperatures drop down to under 10°C.

When I walk the dog around 5.30 am it is very chilly and still totally dark.  An hour later, when I leave for work the sun is coming up and fog starts forming over the fields. Dew covers the grass and flowers. Later in the day the sky turns blue and the autumn colours are clear, bright and powerful. Around 6 o’clock the temperatures start falling and by 7 o’clock it is almost dark.

Sun coming up at the Stör

The 3rd of October is a public holiday (German reunification) and I took off work for a few day. One morning when I woke up early I took a walk along the river Stör, which flows not far from Hohenlockstedt.  it is only a small river, but very popular for canoeing. This morning however it was totally quiet and I could enjoy my “Golden October”.

Early morning at the Stör
Early morning at the Stör

I don’t exactly know why this period is called “Goldener Oktober”, but maybe it has something to do with the special light at this time of the year. In the mornings and evenings it is often a bit hazy, giving everything a mellow, “golden” touch.

At no other time of the year will you find that many colours and different lights as in early October. A sunny bright autumn dayThe first yellow and red leaves appear on the trees and the fruit and vegetables which are now ripe  are a feast for the eyes.  I visited my parents on Sunday and took home some goodies from their garden. The taste and aroma of home-grown apples is special and in my opinion no apple bought in a shop can measure up to it. Please note, that grapes are also growing in North Germany, proving that the weather in the North is much better than it’s reputation.  Grapes grow in North Germany, tooI am looking forward to apple cake

However, according to the weather forecast the weather will turn to cold, grey and rainy during the next days, as always when approaching mid-October. I will go back to work tomorrow, happy that I could enjoy these fabulous days out in the countryside.

The place I live in:

Unless you’re into military history it is unlikely that you  have heard of the place I live in: Hohenlockstedt. It is situated between Hamburg and Kiel, not far from the rural town of Itzehoe.

Hohenlockstedt is not a farming village, but  started out as a military camp and training area. Growing  rapidly it became famous when the German Emperor visited the troops. Around World War 1  there were 100 000 soldiers stationed in the Lockstedter Lager, as Hohenlockstedt was then called.

In 1915 a group of Finnish soldiers were trained in the Lockstedter Lager. They came secretly to get support in their fight for independence against Russia. Ever since there has been a close friendship between Hohenlockstedt and the Finnish, with delegations and school classes visiting each other regularly.

Looking around Hohenlockstedt you will find many buildings and street names dating from the time of Hohenlockstedt being a military camp.

Hohenlockstedt's landmark: the watertower, built 1900 - 1901 provieded the soldiers with water
Hohenlockstedt’s landmark: the water tower, built 1900 – 1901 provieded the soldiers with water
A former casern, built around 1912, now housing the M1 Art Center
A former barrack, built around 1912, now housing the M1 Art Center

After World War 1  the training area was divided and turned into farm land. Most farmers grow potatoes and the community is represented by a  “Kartoffelkönigin” (Potato Queen).

Today, Hohenlockstedt is a small center for the farming villages nearby. There are four supermarkets, a boutique, a book store and a shop selling both fine foods and decorative things for your home. You will find two florists which sell beautiful flowers and plants and there are four restaurants, not to forget the best Italian ice-cream parlor in the whole of North Germany.

If you are interested in sports you will find a sports club offering fitness training, volleyball, athletics and much more and of course there is a football club. If you are into arts you will also find  many interesting things in my community:  a small historical museum  run by community members and  a quite well known Center for Modern Art (M1).   Not far away, near a former military airport, there is a small colony of artists and craftsmen and the former military area is used for outdoor concerts and events, such as a trucker meeting or Oldtimer ralleys. The small “Volkshochschule”, offers evening classes, for instance in cooking or playing guitar.

I appreciate all the things Hohenlockstedt has to offer. It is a good place to live in, but still I feel as an outsider.  Due to long work hours and commuting, I have little time during the week  to get involved in community activities.

I know and like my neighbours and we always have a chat when we meet, but no  close friendships have developed. When I walk our dog I meet many people and while our dogs are playing we talk about this and that. I know the names of their dogs, but I don’t know the names of their owners, where they live and what they do.

While I am outgoing at work where I communicate with all kind of people all day long,  I am a rather quiet and private person at home.  I like people but  I have few close friends. So living here without a network of good friends and acquaintances has more to do with my reserved ways than with the people in Hohenlockstedt.

One of my goals for the coming months is to get to know more places in Hohenlockstedt. I will visit the museum, the M1 Art center and  the artist colony and promise to tell you about it.