Dienstag, 31. März 2015

Found a sickle;-)

In a lost place deep in the woods I found this ancient sickle. Sweet! The handle is a bit rotten, but I was not even able to take it home, for Fritz wanted it. Badly;-). So, I can always make myself one, und thus gave it to him. I like it that way: Finding things and doing people a favour with them. Perfect. This tool will now see use and not be left to rot, and its previous owner would most certainly approve.

The Rus replica and finding a story

 So, here it is, the almost finished knife with the carving completed.
I am now searching for the story and the name. It all started with me realizing that the blade also resembles the find of the famed "Amunta" knife. I thought, well, might it be that the knife inscribed with Amunta a mik (which is read today as "Amunta owns me") belonged to a skóggángr man? Skóggángr was a sentence of banning people from the community, often without weapons. I´ll do an article on this soon. Suffice to say, while there are reasons people were banned from the community in the Viking and Vendel age, nowadays it might as well be a honourable deed banning oneself from a society of lunatics. In that line the story and myth of this knife will happen.

When I rode home from the smithy last Sunday, when I had completed the handle, I presumeably did the silliest thing in my whole life: Riding over the lane by the river with a rucksack full of steel in the middle of a lightning tempest. I was sure I´d die there, and I asked the fates to make me understand. It was then lightning struck nearby, behind my back, and the St. Elmo´s fire went right through me. While it is not an experience I can recommend:-), it was a goosebumps experience, with the violent purple light running through my limbs and onto the lane  ravaged by the driving rainstorm in the dark... and the tempest pushed me with a backwind that literally smote me forward with some 35 km/h without me even pedalling. If you ask the Gods in a lightning storm, chance is, they will answer... it will always be a part of this knife´s story now... in this case it is a bit more complicated. It is not just a mere name, but I really want to find out about its true myth... it´s a bit of quoting a story that is already there but written in a language you cannot read... yet.

So watch this place...

Next step will be making a utility sheath and then one for bling;-D. 

New iron age interpretation

 This is a knife that interprets the lines of a Scandinavian iron age design after finds all over the place. It is not a viking age design, as it is often mistakenly tauted, but dating back a bit earlier.
 I tried this torsion work to which Kai inspired me to.
The blade is made from junkyard scrap steel, 110xtapering from 4-2mm with less than 5% stock removal, a convex bevel and a selective temper.

New Whittler in Progress

This is something I did for recreation... a fast semi-integral whittling knife;-). The blade is forged to shape almost 100%, the integral´s shoulders have seen no filing whatsoever but have been set with a nail device. It is made from scrap spring steel from the junkyard and stag antler from a flea market. 65x3mm, selective temper.

Dienstag, 24. März 2015

On the bench-some progress

 I am a bit reluctant- might well be that you are getting fed up with those progress posts, but bhere they come. Sanded and filed the handles of the two Rus knives, and in the middle´s the Tai - Goo - style bush knife with a quick paracord wrap.
On the big ´un with the Kopis blade that will see a carving....
...like this, see? I daresay one can imagine how I had the idea...;-). Or any such like. Quite certainly it will be modified in the progress.
Anyway, I am talking in ellipses, what I want to say is, I fitted a buttcap out of homemade Mokume Gane. Silver and copper. 
I look forward to the knife. I peened the tang over with the tip submerged in a piece of hardwood, crosswise to the grain and levered it out, and it took it with no damage. It´s not THAT hard, but hard enough to carve mild steel rods and chop antler, so it´ll do fine for my woodwalking and re-enactment endeavours. I am taking this quite slow, because I want to find a story suited to it in the work process, and a name that fits. Watch this place, it´ll be not the last time you´ll read about it;-).

A day in the smithy with Willy

 On Sunday, weather was great, so I saddled my steed and rolled out to the smithy. It turns out Willy was already there and was doing some work. There were few customers, but still, children came along and we did a bit of forging with kids. Willy is currently going strong, what with his own smithy he always keeps with him on his car trailer. The progress he makes is great to see, and he is doing some big-scale work such as garden handrails and -doors and other big artisan blacksmithing stuff.
 He told me he wasn´t that much into knifemaking anymore, and I can much relate to that. It´s simply not that challenging anymore to pound iron flat and put an edge to it. I have taken other challenges, such as Damascus and those leaf-handled knives, but still, sometimes you just want something more eloquent. I try to combine artisan elements with my knives and have just started some reconstruction projects, but Willy is currently going huge with either tiny, extremely eloquent jewellery work - in steel, not silver- and classical artisan work for garden and home. In my opinion, this is a great way of learning from each other. Bro´, it´s always inspiring!
 Contrary to all my talking, I had little time and, as I freely admit, little energy, so I just made one of the highly practical bush knives while I waited for the kids to come.
 Willy made a coal shovel for his own forge.
 Oh, and this is Noris, kind of a blacksmith´s groupie already, dropping by frequently to do some small projects. We forged a little ring for the collar of his little doggie. It certainly shows he´s got practice, and he was righteously proud of his achievement!
 This is what I made, the bush knife from ancient spring steel with a high-tech ferrum oxide high density desert destroyer tactical operation high endurance forte TM coating for the blade;-), meaning, I left the oxide on. Also a chain link and a belt hook for a sheath system.
 I was thinking of making the handle a flower, but there was too little material - I was a bit spontaneous in making this blade. I also did a quick paracord wrap.
 The spine thickness is quite moderate, the knife has seen little stock removal. It´s well balanced, and the steel keeps a great edge, very fine and well hard enough. I love that steel.
We had a coffee and a piece of cake, cleaned up, and parted, as the sun sank. Nice day.

New damascus bling by Kai

 When I was at Kai´s to fetch him for a ride, he had this smile... I know this type of smile, this little knowing, triumphant smile lurking at the edge of his mouth like a bloody assassin;-), as if he knew a joke I did not...;-). And he produced... tadaaah... this little blade from file and spring steel, with, wait, are these 60 layers? I like the clear pattern and the torsion that shows on one side.
The form is not my piece of cake, but still, one has to admire the clean pattern! Bro´, I will put up to the challenge for sure...:D and I am happy like a proud Da´ about the progress the guy´s making.

Donnerstag, 19. März 2015

Fly well, Sir Terry-in memory of Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett is dead. The author of the famed disc world novels, who had been sick with Alzheimer disease died on 12th of March.

He is one of the few people in this world I am angry with myself never to have met in person. He was a character full of diversities, controversies and fantasy. One may like or distest his writing, but there is no mistaking the man was larger than life. Raising funds is just another facet of this true and living wizard, for Orang Utans as well as for dementia prevention and cure. An astronomer as well, as a man with a good humour and an affinity for good dark ale;-), what inspires me most of all is that he forged his own sword.

Now readers of my blog might have got an idea that it might not be exactly easy to smelt your own iron ore, even as an accomplished blacksmith. But this is exactly what Terry Pratchett did, as soon as he had been knighted by the Queen Of England.

He just went outside, collected some iron ore, smelted it with some friends in the garden of his house, and "chucked in some meteorites, you just have to use them, whether you believe in it or not". Then he went to a blacksmith to learn how to hammer it out and to quench it. Even more awe-inspiring is that this came out:


What I want to say is that he had a dream, and lived this dream. He already had Alzheimer disease then, and cannot have been an absolute amateur in metalworking, but he still created something this beautiful. Because he wanted to. His coat of arms has the credo embossed:

Noli Timere Messorem (Don't fear the reaper)

I personally have the impression that this is a personal achievement he had accomplished, dying surrounded  by his family with his cat sleeping in his lap. He had lived his dream, but he has never lived in a dream. The discworld novels might often appear as slapstick humour, but if you read them thoroughly you will notice a dimension that is both humane, friendly and more silent smile than laughter. He has never made a secret out of the fact that he has always been more of a sceptic seeker of the truth, but he really and honestly sought the spiritual dimension "on the other side of physics". Radicals of any religion will detest that and hate him for that, but, if you read his articles closely, you get some weird ideas about peace being actually possible. And not because he ordered you to, but because what he says makes a sort of sense.

He certainly has inspired me. To forge my own sword, that too, but to live  according to my heart. And if I am honest, the one topic has a lot to do with the other.

Might be one day we will meet beyond the black desert under the endless night sky to smile upon the quest for the place where the gods  come from we all were on. I do not know if I fear the reaper. I daresay I do, but there´s nothing I could do but live according to my heart, and Terry Pratchett inspired me to do this with his life.


Another fun ride

Okay again, so my cellphone beeped with short messages constantly, and I was like, Moritz, don´t wanna go riding today, no really I won´t.

Seems I actually DID want to go, but did not know it. ;-)

Moritz fetched me at work, we fetched the bikes and gear and off we were for some 2 hours of singletrail riding at the Harkortberg Enduro trail again. Simple as that. We unpacked the bikes and warmed up by doing a bit of rolling. Moritz was like "Today I´ll gonna do that "big" drop....". Sorry enough for us both, the "big" drop ´s just 80cm, but, hey, it´s all in the eye of the beholder. Time was when I just rolled it home with no thinking at all and did not even see it as a mild distraction, but that is past tense. So we both rolled alongside it, did a lot of discussing and freaking out at the sight of it, rolling up to it and simply not daring do it... until, well, Moritz just rode up to it and did it. Simple as that. I was just doing too much thinking again, and consequently this old fart did not manage and took the chicken way again. So I asked Moritz, what mental trick he had done to achieve this and what his meditation technique was. He thought for a moment and paused and said: "Thinking of boobies...";-). I tried it, but it did not work out for me, unfortunately. But, since taking the chickenway was way slower, I had to do something, for we raced each other down the hill laughing like kids all the way down... and I. WILL. NOT. BE. DEFEATED;-). So it was hammering the berms and working on my berm technique, and so I had my share of fun. One time Moritz got the better end of me and sometimes I was at the front. We just could not get enough, and started to combine lines and criss-crossing the lines from northshore line to flowy jump line.

It went dark, and still we did some more runs, until I could not judge my lines properly anymore and Moritz was well fluffy.

Off then to the city to get some food, have a chat, and the evening was round and whole. Good! 

Mittwoch, 18. März 2015

What I did while Nick was busy;-) and the long way home

 The other day Nick had called if I´d come to go smithing with him;-). Turns out there was a birthday party scheduled that Volker forgot to mention, so surprise, surprise for him... but he put up to the task, for I was being late. He has an altogether different style of working with the kids, but that´s the point of it all- we all have. But in all those years we are working for the smithy, I have just received one negative feedback. Some four thousand customers, however, came and come back for more. The one negative feedback was quickly mended even so, and that customer now is one of our sincerest and oldest friends now. This feels very good, and Nick, working for us for, wait, is that two years now? puts up to the task in a very hearty and friendly way. Of course, there´s always room for improvement when the smithing is concerned, but that is so for anyone of us.
 He addressed the parents politely, but also with a firm stand, and treated the kids with friendliness and respect, but also a strong position. Great!
 I tend to criticize Volker a lot, I must admit, but I must say, he´s  had a hard life and has one still. At 67 years old, he works up to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, no weekend, for a ridiculous salary. Some of it is all his fault, but even then you have to admire him for his endurance and the friendly manner he has for everyone. He simply loves the kids. He may be absolutely crap for a blacksmith, but he does a great job with the kids. I have rarely seen a kid that did not leave with a sparkle in his or her eyes. I have rarely seen a kid not returning to the smithy. Not necessarily because of the blacksmithing, but because of Volker. He is subject to the city marketing of Witten, and recently opened his mouth and spoke his word that he was not to be treated little better than a slave. Of course, there´s now a right riot going on, with intrigues and a frenzy to modernising the Bethaus smithy and putting a scheme onto it that will not fit. I am currently searching for an alternative location just in case, for I learned this lesson far too well. And of course I will want to provide for my friends also, and this includes Volker.
 Was it a lazy day for me, then? I did four projects with the kids and the parents alike and some tutoring on making Damascus, and that was all of it. Then I retired myself to the murky boundaries of the shop;-) and did some filing and fitting and filing and fitting some more... and this is what came out:
 Viking age friction folder. Stag, brass rivet, and Zwissler seven-bar Damascus steel from tank cannon and tank bearing steel.
 Crude, of course, but that´s how it goes when you try to forge as much in shape as you can...

 I am a bit proud of the swan´s neck. The lever is a bit longer resulting in a very secure hold when opened, and I offset the slot a tiny bit to aid in keeping it in when closed.
 The blade´s spine is going from 3 - 1 mm resulting in a slicer. The blade is selectively tempered with the quench line including the rivet hole to add durability. It has a convex bevel, and the blade is 80 mm long.
 I admit I just forsake my principles with this Kopis knife after the Novgorod find. The handle is reindeer antler like the original. But, rummaging in my attic, I had come across this meander design bronze bolster. Now those meandrous design features are not authentical, neither to the Novgorod, Kiev or Birka finds. The culprit is, I am making this just for myself, and I just liked it. So I put it on.
 The file steel and crucible steel show a beautifully rustic pattern and, having done a superficial test already, I can say they can take a beating. I guess I will do a video test about it soon.
 The spine´s 4 mm thick, the bevels a mild convex one. The blade is exactly 120mm long, making it a legal carry.
 I did five projects that day...
Top to bottom: A mysterious little something for the lovely magic troll, may her beard grow ever longer;-D, the aforementioned Kopis knife, a blade from ancient spring steel with a stag antler handle, the aforementioned friction folder, and another Rus replica with deliciously smelling Corse juniper wood (smells like exotic pepper!) and reindeer antler (not so deliciously smelling...) for a handle, Damascus blade from 1.2842 and crucible steel I found in the woods, 100x4mm.

It was simply great to have some time for projects like these... and I need this from time to time.

After work we had some delicious meatballs and potato salad and a sip of beer with Volker, Sylvia and Uwe. All too soon time had passed chatting and I was on my way home.

My heart was filled with warmth and content, as I rode home through the night. But as it turns out, the story is not yet at an end:

When I passed the Nachtigall mine, my rear tire went flat. As I opened my rucksack, I realized I must have had lost my spare tube and repair kit. And my rucksack, loaded with some 50 kg of tools and steel and knifemaking projects, tore. So, out in the cold, I took out my sewing kit and fixed the bloody thing, muttering curses and insults to myself until I realized this was not taking me anywhere. So, I took the pack, strapped my helmet to it, and started to walk. It was a journey of 13 km through the dark, pushing a bike with a flat tire and a pack that weighed me down with every step. My working shoes chafed me raw, until I got enough of that and walked the last 5 km barefooted. Even so, I had developed some blisters soon that made a funny popping sound, exploding from time to time;-), weird;-). Knowing that to cry would not get me anywhere, I took out the Balistol from my pack to disinfect them and went on my not-so-merry way.

And guess what? I would not have thought this during the toiling along, but I arrived home two hours later. I was still breathing. The blisters subsided in one day. I opened a bottle of black beer, called my love, had a chat and a good night´s sleep. Message: Nothing is as bad as it seems.

Beating around the bush-riding out with no intent but having fun

 Now this is a bit weird to me. Not this above, that too, of course;-), but the whole situation. Moritz had called a lot these days. In fact, he had emailed me for months. And called. And called again. And again. I had been busy with a lot of things, and, to be honest, I did not think to have the energy left to do him justice, so I postponed a meeting.

Now Moritz is one of the "kids" I once tutored in mountainbike riding way back then, even before the "Zee Aylienz e.V. MTB Hagen" club was founded. In fact, it was my work with kids that laid the groundwork for the founding of the club. And, in the end, the club and its members were one of the reason I nearly completely lost interest in sportive freeriding in the last years and kept to myself. Maybe this was another reason I postponed the meeting - and the ride. I did not do him justice, of course. There´s a lesson hidden in there;-)...

But Moritz did not give up. I guess he noticed there was something wrong with the old fart. But he did not go in for psychologizing, as many so-called friends would have done. He just kept calling.

And the other day we met beside the highway, he picked me up, we put the bike into the car and drove up the hill to the Harkortberg hill. I was a bit reluctant not to go there by bike, for it´s half an hour, but Moritz didn´t know the way to the spot, and having not ridden anything for three years, and having a new bike and all. In fact, first he wanted to go riding on another spot that is, frankly said, insane to ride without practice. The spot on the Harkortberg is, pun intended, spot on for dialling in your skills;-). Plus, it´s legal in the bargain and not some guerrilla jump building with debris, rotten leaves and a bit of loam where the challenge is to be faster down the hill than the hill.
 I don´t want to brag... er, in fact, I DO, but I don´t say this, of course;-D, but yours truly also had a hand in building this spot. But in my hibernation sleep those last years, there were a lot of things going on I hadn´t noticed. When we arrived, the first thing we saw were these way cool northshore stunts. Northshore stunt riding originated in Vancouver, where the locals bridged fallen mammoth trees with ladders and modified them to accommodate the needs of fun-addicted technical mountainbike riders. Many of the stunts built illegally are equal to a suicidal attempt, but the guys and gals from the RSC Tretlager team in Wetter certainly know their business. Of course, if you look for big air, look elsewhere, for this is a beginner´s training spot and part of a marathon race (!). But to warm up to that sort of riding, few things are better.
 Just over the corner there was this climbing parcours... it made us think...... By that time, it had started to gently drizzle, but no harm done at all.
 Lowering the saddle is crucial on such a trail. That way you can keep your control better and have more fun with it.

What can I say... we had a lot of fun, doing some really laidback training, discussing lines and moving up the notch. Moritz rocked his new bike...
 Perp...vert?*ggg* Anyway, we just met at the foot of the gnarly rut section of the trail, and I grinned and said: "Yeah, gnarly shaky great" or any such like... he just stared at me with a blank expression replying "What shaky?". Seems full suspension can do that for you...;-D
 We rode for some three hours on end, and I daresay in the end we both got down faster.
 My (insert an insult you´d like) camera´s way too slow for that kind of pics. Originally this pic was intended to show Moritz whippin´it out in full moto style, but, as is...
...it´s just a crappy shot of someone with a funny face having just returned from an orbit mission.;-).

I noticed one thing: I missed the fun in that laidback style of riding. And I missed people capable of actual talking. Moritz had suffered some real hardships in his life, and I am sorry I could not do anything for him in these past years. But I was  surprised to meet this altogether different and special person. Not at all grown-up, but growing up, and grown to meet life, if you get my point. I was surprised to hear he was a druid, too (well, not THAT surprised, to be honest), but it fits. You would not think of it with all that "punk" lifestyle and cool endeavour he shows, but here he is...

I look forward to him kicking my lazy butt, having sessions and  rides and actual talk and those weird jokes. Summer´s just round the corner, and it might be we all will be grilled by the end of the year by some Russian or radical Muslim terrorist or dictator... but still the birds are singing, and the trees will be here. It might be that there are a lot of morons everywhere, but there are still people to have fun with. And it seems, just when you think you have seen it all, and life has got it in for you, a friend pops up like a jack-in-the-box convincing you otherwise.

Thanks, bro, for being a friend.

Mittwoch, 11. März 2015

Those were the days... an old knife rediscovered

 There is an advantage to being a chaotical character... you can always rediscover things you thought were long lost.;-) I recently found this knife in my attic-turned home and it made me a bit melancholic. It is one of the knives I forged in the garden of my old home with a dirt forge, with charcoal and an old vacuum cleaner for a bellows in, wait, is that 2002?. Originally the blade was a lot longer. It was forged from file steel, and it was intended as a seax. There also was a swan´s neck lanyard loop at the end of the handle. It´s a full tang blade, but the handle goes around the tang. Now I have always been a funny chap, and yeah, I know you do not throw seaxes at hardwood logs. But as it turns out, I did, and the tip broke off, for I had my heat treating not that wired in ´em days. I always used very little tempering, misjudging the need for monstrous edge retention;-), meaning, many of the file steel blades I made in these days were so hard (and brittle) they could easily cut glass. I was that naïve I was even proud of it!:-D This took the beating relatively well, for it had been quenched in a Bainite concoction after the "curicus und offen hertzig wein artzt" from the 1700s and has a monstrous spine thickness.

So, the damage was done, but it was a great knife so far out of a great steel, so I simply heated the thing all in all, with a wrapping of wet rags around the handle and took the hardness down to 59 - 60 HRC and then redid the tip with careful grinding and even put a kind of hollow grind and a fuller on it. Since the proportions were so awkward after that I hacksawed off the swan´s neck and put a butt cap on. I also carved the burned-coloured stag antler handle with some spiral ornaments and made the somewhat weird leather sheath for it.

The steel, the heat treating and the grind now work in unison to make it a most able cutter in spite of the spine thickness.
Whenever I am a bit doubtful about my work I remember this knife and then I realize there´s always more than one way to do things, and you can save a lot by improvising.

On the bench: Viking / Rus age replica blades work in progress-and the question of the Kopis edge line

Currently I am working on my first genuine replicas / museum artefact interpretations, and I am faced with some difficulties. First and foremostly, I am inspired very much by the Novgorod Viking age finds. The culprit is, there are some of the blades found in Novgorod showing a somewhat "recurve" blade line, as the Kopis style blade below. That blade you might know from another post. As you can see in the pattern, the blade is forged that way.
(picture courtesy of http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/NovgorodMetalp.html)

As you can see, the topmost find, not identical to my interpretation, which follows the lines of this one:

 picture by http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/NovgorodMetalp.html

 is also presumeably forged that way, because the fuller (top photo) follows the edge line.

But there is a problem Mielenko pointed out: If you look at old kitchen knives which have seen a lot of hard use you will often notice a recurve edge line, too. This is often due to a mistake in stropping. If a knife is sharpened a lot just where the edge became dull the blade will develop this edge line, because the edge always gets dulled near the handle first. If you look closely at the second knife in the topmost picture you might get the impression too. The knife has seen a lot of use apparently, for the edge line is drawn in quite a bit and also shows a recurve form. So I must admit I have gone to liberties with the design. I simply cannot tell whether the longer blade actually is authentic.

I have thusly decided, since I am forced to interpret anyway, to dismiss the authenticity a tiny bit and do something of an interpretation again.

The little blade, however (ancient crucible steel and 1.2842) follows the lines of a great many finds and thusly poses no problems whatsoever. I like how the pattern shows, even if it did not weld that good. That´s the problem when you work with salvaged steels - you´ll never know what you get!

But the blade is coming along nicely, with a nice and crispy hardness and great flexibility, so watch this place for news!;-)

Mittwoch, 4. März 2015

A rare Karesuando collectible

I knew I had it somewhere, and after the meeting with Gabriele on the expo I began to look for´t thoroughly. I bought this knife years ago. Karesuando does not make them anymore, more´s the pity, but I got me one when they were still for sale, more´s the joy.;-). Blade´s 84mmx3,2mm 12C27 Swedish stainless steel at roundabout 57HRC, handle´s birch burr with a more subdued grain and reindeer antler. The sheath is made from top-grain cowhide leather with a plastic insert and a very traditional belt loop. The knife is a most comfortable carry and came out of the box razor sharp. Even though the blade shape is more suited for skinning, I find it also makes a decent whittling knife. The hollow grind makes it more suited for little tasks. For hiking around the block and even light camping tasks it´s a good snacking, whittling and allround knife.

I like it.

Dirt and steel, a cold butt and a cuppa tea;-)

Okay. I looked outside. The sun was shining. On the lane that passes beneath my window road riders and mountainbikers passed with minimum attire. Then I looked at my  belly and my hips. And felt for my legs. It was then I came to a conclusion.

 I discussed the pros and cons and what ifs thoroughly, and finally gave my sluggishness a thorough kicking up the spine. And saddled my bike. And made for the woods.

We will learn that my decision had some consequences. But I am not talking about that yet.

So, off with me, and I was right glad to be outside, the sun was warming me and all was grand in wonderland. I took the long way along the lane to get in the miles and do some basic endurance training. I recently had some problems with my heart and lungs, but only until I took up riding again, and even my thrombophilic legs did what they were supposed to do... it felt good to spin the cranks and casually rolling alongside the lake. Careful not to pass the anaerobic threshold, I took the turn into the woods, and all was silent. I was wondering because there were no one else in the woods that day. By that time the sun was not shining so much any more, but I thought "hey, it´s still good and warm, weather´s not going to be that bad" and went on my merry way.

Near the top of the hill I passed by the ruin of this ancient mill, and there I paused to smell the roses...

 ...or shall I say the steel???! Blimey, where´s my hacksaw when I need it? Beside the ruin there lay the remnants of an ancient carriage or sled. Nearly still in working order...;-)
 More spring steel in spring... this is a treasure trove that certainly will see me again!
 All was still above the crumbling walls. Inside the walls there was an old oven and a hearth and the remnants of a bed all strewn about the place. It was a weird sight to behold the passing of that place, all taken back by the forest´s ancient might.
 I was somewhat torn apart between the joy of finding those resources and the melancholy of the crumbling place.
 The trees around the place looked crooked and torn, but the atmosphere was still light and warm.
 Looking around, I saw a herd of roe deer in the far distance, but, as usual, I fumbled my camera and thusly, no pics of roe deer but an empty forest: Just buy yourself a roe-deer play figure and move it across the screen to get the full picture...;D.
 Then I was back on my bike, and took the singletrail to the hilltop. And while I did that, clouds gathered. And more of them. And yet more of them. And they turned pitch black in colour. And it started to rain. Then to drizzle. While I put on my rain jacket, I met a horseback rider, and after some polite greetings she uttered "shitty weather, ain´t it?", and I replied somewhat naively "that´s okay, it´s still winter after all". If only I had had a clue then.
 Then it started to hail. And to snow. Actually, I was glad that the hail was turning to snow, because those acorn sized pellets of ice actually DID hurt, even if you´ve got a helmet on.;-)
 Towards the hilltop I rode, catching snowflakes with my mouth and singing the marching song of Fiach MacHugh. Fortunately no one was there to be insulted;-D. It´s funny, when conditions get that foul, I always have to laugh. I felt alive then, and pensive at the same moment. How come we feel most alive when the going gets that rough?
 On the hilltop, beside the fire road, I sat down on a stump and watched the driving snow.
And had a sip of tea. It is funny, how the taste of tea in the cold weather and the woods gives you the feel of coziness even in a snowstorm. I cuddled into my plain windbreaker (not much to cuddle in, I admit), and let my thoughts wander with the driving storm.

But, being aware that the conditions were actually going worse and I had no spare clothes with me (yap, it happens to all of us from time to time, and I am not proud of it). I rode on to the city of Hohenlimburg to shortcut the ride and all the while revelled in my toughness and badassedness...

...but only until I hit the road where the icy storm hit me with all its might, and in combination with the oft-quoted ice water down the butt it made me want to cry and grunt with hypothermia. For once there was no overcoming it. My hands were freezing until I felt them no more, and I stopped frequently to avoid frostbite while putting them under my armpits to warm up. I certainly looked an outright fool, but I like to keep my hands as they are.

It was a shivering and a freezing frenzy getting along the lane,  frequently stopping and drinking the hot tea that was left in tiny pinchs to aid keeping warm.

But suddenly I was home, in my warm attic-turned-home, with a warm full bath and hot cocoa and tea and a load of spiced pasta, and all was well again. Okay, my hand joints do ache a bit still, but that will fade eventually.

Blimey, I look forward to summer.;-)

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