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Mittwoch, 12. April 2017

Ride with ´em crazy rookies ;-)


 On Sunday the folks from the ironforge and myself decided it was some really fine weather to go for some mountainbike ride along some technical trails. A lot of the guys and gals actually ride, and some of them have developed an appetite for some chain banging, no pun intended;-). So we met up at the trailhead, and the day started with some talking complete nonsense and horsing around.
 After some riding the local enduro track@Harkortberg trail, where we met Marvin, one of the semi-pros of my former club, we were faced with a cool singletrail descent and the resulting in-your-face climb, where all of us had to bail at the end.
 No harm done, what with an open fireroad and birds twittering all over the place and cozy temps.
 There was more climbing waiting, but nothing could wipe that smile off our faces!
 Still more climbing, still more fun!
 Then we hit a former railroad track:


And glided along, talking a pile of shit, for a change... ;-). Now these tracks are quite an asset in our region. A lot of former railroad tracks have been converted into bike lanes, offering scenic vistas and a really cool way to get to places fast. I often use one of them when commuting to work, and that´s a real asset. It´s outright relaxing not having to constantly being afraid for your life because one or the other car driver wants to kill you just for being existent!

From the lane, we took another singletrail over open heath.
 Natalie and Thiemo did a really great job, by the way. I had tutored both of them how to do the bunny hop, and they respectively needed 5 minutes (!) to get it wired in a basic form. Hats off to them!
 The trails we rode were not exactly rookie level, too, but part of an almost legendary bike race, the Ruhrbike marathon race, which is famed for the challenging terrain it covers. We did not overdo it, and took in a relaxed way, but they rode almost everything. Even the chicken ways on a downhill course posed no challenge to them. Thumbs up!
 I really like the atmosphere of the forest these days, so warm and cozy and springy and fragrant!
 Then we passed along some rutted doubletrack, where it happened...
 ...that Thiemo...
 ...who was that fond of the trails...
 (as was Natalie)...

took a sample of dirt.... ;-). But, no harm done, we were able to continue on our merry way, after a brief pausing to relieve the shock.

 At the Böllberg, site of a local secret spot ;-) we met with these licce goaties...
 ..who did not let the world put a care upon their shoulders except from grazing the --- erm... grass? ;-)
 And up again we climbed.
 Then we wanted to visit Willy at the Bethaus smithy, for Natalie as his daughter just wanted to say hello. Turned out Willy was not there, but we had a nice chat with Patrick, who is also forging at the smithy now.
When we went for our way home, it was already getting dark. We split up in Wetter, and the two of them slowly took the climb to the parking at the trailhead, where they had left their car.

It was a really cool outing, with fun companionship and fun trails, and laidback and silly talk... what more could you wish for!

Thanks, folks!

Dienstag, 11. April 2017

The wonder of spring

 It´s been a while, on a day when the sun was shining so vibrantly, that I felt that urge again. I had to get outside, and so I packed my foraging gear and a cuppa and saddled my not-so-trusty steed (for it is crumbling at the moment and I lack the money to fix it) to get out into the woods. I am very glad that I have managed to ride more frequently this year. I even commute to work again, which amasses to a bargain of about 100€ per month! Plus, it makes me fitter. I also have started the year by drinking up to 1.5 l of birch sap per day, which made me do at least a 20km ride each day on top, for the sap does not collect itself;-). Also it makes me wonder what crap we normally drink. When drinking unprocessed birch sap I have the impression that it takes an immediate positive effect on my metabolism, and, comparing it to soft drinks and alcohol I wonder how much crap we normally drink... but I am realistic enough to know that I will continue to drink my beer and my coke from time to time. It´s just that the effect is that cool, and that there is actually something about that myth of the "tree of rejuvenation", aka the birch that´s not entirely... erm ... mythological ;-), or better, that indeed is mytho-logical.

Anyway;-), I rode out to the hills, and really basked in the warm sun. Spinning my cranks in slow circles, just breathing and climbing above the valley, away from the exhaust fumes and the ruckus and the noise, it felt as if a weight had dropped from my shoulders, just like it has felt again and again.

We tend to forget that in our world. We are all bombarded with the latest bad news, with greed and hate and lust and violence, with need and want and whatnot, that we forget that somewhere birds still twitter and don´t preach hate with it, so to say, but just sing, because they feel like singing or because it´s what birds do in spring. And trees just grow, with no meaning needed apart from that. It´s all still there, and we are the ones that have alienated themselves from tree and bird and fox and hare.
 Sometimes I tend to think that the bicycle is the last sensible machine that man has invented. You push the cranks, it lurches forward, it´s simple and has little ecological footprint when compared to a car (ANY car, even a modern electric engine), a plane or rocketship. Even a mountainbike for all its hardcore image is a humble means of transportation. It does you good and takes you places, full stop. Of course, if you do skids down an alpine slope, chance is, you will have some more or less grave ecological impact, but so will a caribou sliding down that same slope. Compared to a V-8 engine this impact is outright ridiculously small, even if you consider the production. But it´s not about ecological calculations. It´s just the good feeling I had. Take out the old warhorse, and ride to the hills where things still make some sense or do not even need to make sense.
 Now I think long and hard about the current political situation in the world, and I do this far too often for my own good. But let us be honest. We all know we are preparing for our death. Mankind will be extinguished, maybe even as early as next year. The American and North Korean dictators as well as the one in Russia, the one in Turkey and the lunatics in the Middle East are all playing with the fuse and will light the fire soon (and mind you, I do not exclude our own local and political German dictators), because their tiny egos demand for a nuclear war to feel as if they had a huge genital. It´s that simple. It´s not about any God or Allah or what is right or wrong. It´s about who has the power, and who has the least of a conscience to blow us all into oblivion. And we have reached a point where a simple mechanism of nature is taking effect. Mankind is reaching the verge of overpopulation and has routed a good part of the ecosystem, and so the population is to be reduced by the simple failsafe of a nuclear world war. Most of us will die soon, and I daresay I won´t survive, too. There is nothing I could do to prevent this. There is no election I could attend, no measure of protest that will stop this failsafe. And it is right that we will be extinguished (for the most part). Why then should I make plans for the future? Why should I bother to buy a load of shite that will be useless? If I will survive, fine, but why should I care? The world will be a shitty place for the rest of my life any which way. I will always have a hard time living. There will be no children, no family for me. And no happiness.

Except for something very, very simple. There will always be a view from a hilltop. Maybe you will look down into a valley of ruins and shacks and desolation, and maybe not, but you will always be able to stand upon a hilltop (provided you survive). There maybe even will be birds singing, and maybe some trees still standing. Hope dies last, one says, but as long as one human being still lives, he or she will hope. And what I know for sure is that I always had a hard time living. It´s not that this will change for the better, but if it will change for the worse, I am well accustomed to that. What I want to say is that there will always be things that count. And these things will always count.

A bicycle is but one means to experience these things, but one it is. 
 And I am fighting to get this resolve, over and over again, as you well know from reading my blog. Often I think it´s just superficial and superfluous to just have some careless, plain old fun. Mountainbike riding as I often practice it is a surrogate activity not meaning a thing, but then, why should it mean a thing? I watched a buzzard some days ago. Okay, so he was circling for prey, but why did he go into seemingly unmotivated dives and rolls? Doves to that, as well as ravens, bluetits and sparrows and swallows. They play in the air. Their need for sustenance is far more dire than ours can ever be, and yet they play. Wild cats, foxes, deer - they all play.  
 Yeah, the situation we are faced with, is no reason to be glad and cheerful. But there´s nothing we can do now to prevent the rout of mankind.

So I figured I´d rather have some fond memories of sunlight and trailriding and playing on my bike and drinking spring in a mug of birch sap when sitting in the dark of a bunker or waiting for the cancer to kill me slowly. At least then I will have the notion, however ridiculous it may be, however worthless is may seem at first glance, that even when I am dying in torment, there once was a time when I lived, and really felt alive.
 And, yeah, spring is on the way, and there will be spring, or seasons, at least after a period of time. When the nuclear winter will be over, nature will reclaim what was lost. As it is the case even after the most hopeless winter of all, after every winter there will be a new spring.
 Maybe the lake, a jewel now that mirrors the sky under a vibrant sun, will be a dried-out ditch, rock-strewn and full of debris. But that ditch will remember the time when it was a lake.
 And even after the desolation, something will sprout. And after the rout of mankind, nature will prosper again, prosper and will be left to itself to grow as it was intended to be.

But what is most important: It is NOW that everything basks in a vibrant sun. It is NOW that the birds are singing. It is NOW that the sap rises and the trees sprout and blossom. It is not tomorrow that you can take out your bike to go on a beautiful ride in the sunshine. It is not tomorrow that you will have fun, but NOW. We are still alive. We might not be able to do anything against what will happen soon. So why the fuck should we listen to all the bad news and the next moron telling us not to do this or that? Of course that does not tell you should go out and kill your little sister and eat her shanks seasoned with thyme just because someone told you not to.

But their entire system of morale and value has brought us into this fix. It is not competent to bind us, for its moral integrity is non-existent and therefore non-contiguous. Meaning, those that forged their swords to ploughshares now plough for those that did not. Yap, violence still is not an option. I despise it for the stress that it will give me afterwards. It always comes full - circle, that´s what I am still saying. Some things will always make sense. If you whack someone, chance is, he will strike you back. If you kill someone´s brother, chance is, he will kill you for it, law or justice or not. They tell us (and keep telling us) that man is more than an animal while they act like predators upon us. Yap, man is more than an animal, for no degree of violence such as the one man employs against even his loved ones is known in nature. Foxes kill out of lust, that´s true, but never so much that one endangers an entire local ecosystem. Owls keep mice alive as a food storage and even mast them, but with little impact on the local ecosystem, too. Animals never go that far as man does. We are an abomination, born naked, with no scales to protect us, no bristles to fend off animals, not even fur or pelt, with no fangs nor beak nor claws, and traumatized by it, so much in fact that we are not content in making our own fangs and beaks and claws, but throwing them around the world and making them explode, so that one claw can kill hundreds and hundreds of thousands and millions and our entire species. It is out of fear that we do this.

And now they tell us to fear. They thrive on besting the latest bad news. And they tell us to be prepared when there can be no means of preparation adequate. And they tell us lies that the guy next door, the people in the country some 3000km away are responsible for all that shite. They keep us in fear in order to make us hate and in order to support their own fear and hate.

But it is NOW that the sun is shining. It is NOW that the swallows and bluetits play in the air. It is NOW that the sap is rising and the trees are in blossom. I am content with making my own claws, so that I am up to par with the other animals. I am content with my bike, and I love to play. And, that´s the culprit, why should I not?
 I am extremely grateful for the birch providing its sap, for the warm sun.
 For the vista down that tricky trail, down to a lake that´s still a lake and not a dried-out crater.
 For the wonderful, beautiful stems of the birchwood grove.
 For my beaten and battered bike, so simple and yet so complex.
 For a cuppa tea in the warm sun.
 For the ants that show me that it is okay to take advantage of the good that nature has to offer.

 Even for that little bug.

For dry leaves that rustle in the wind.

...and a Chinese ************ of a ladybug.

 For beech sprouts, so delicious in a salad....
 ...sprouting their living green...
 from something moulded and dry.

This is spring. This is the wonder of spring.

Bad news today?
Rise like the birch sap. It is spring, the sun is warm. Get out and play in the leaves and scream your joy at the trees!

Donnerstag, 6. April 2017

A cool day at the smithy @#Ahlhauser Hammer

 Each Friday we open up the smithy for just about everyone who wants to come. It´s actual work most of the time, but sometimes just plain old fun. Last Friday was one of those days that were fun to have had. I arrived a bit late. By the way, Thanks to Nick, who is there every Friday, even when I have to work. He had already lit up the forge and was forging for himself for a change.

 Kathrin, our cash manager, arrived just a bit later. We all contribute voluntarily, for it´s our having a ball we pay for, if that makes sense... ;-). Kathrin quite certainly does a way better job than I did, and we are able to act flexibly now. This shows, for instance in the fact that one ton of coal just arrived, providing us with fuel for the months to come, at a right bargain price. Thanks, Kathrin!

The area is just cool and relaxing. And it breathes heritage. This oak was planted as a memorial by our senior blacksmith when he was young. It is a kind of symbol for us, for the responsibility, but also for the tradition, and a legitimation at the same time. The Ahlhauser Hammer is more than just some smithy, but goes back to medieval times. All of that time there have been smiths working there, and our humble efforts, as feeble as they might seem when compared even to the achievements of our senior blacksmith, are all that´s left. And the sorry truth is, since a guy like our senior blacksmith, who is a master in all but the title does not want to share his knowledge with us, we have to figure it out for ourselves. We ask iron itself, and iron answers.

The atmosphere is idyllic and peaceful. But there is something lurking, something I cannot yet figure out. Not a curse, exactly, but something that is waiting to be put right. Sorry if I am sounding like some esoteric tart, but I can´t put it any other way.

The place quite certainly has a rhythm of its own, and I still cannot figure out, that´s the thing. But I keep trying, and I try to blend in. Even the owner and master of the smithy did not figure this out, and even if he lives there, did not blend in to that rhythm... and there is something wrong there, something like one tiny gear that does not meet with others, a cog that is not that important for the functionality of the whole thing, but that continues to disturb the motion of it all. As I said, sorry, but I cannot but it into better words.

We all try to figure it out. And we all do it our way. And since spring is on its way, most came by bike. That was kind of a cool vibe.

I like how this picture tells a story. A story of a couple that does not have a life that is exactly easy. A story of two persons that are not the easiest persons. But that story has a happy ending that shows in the way they interact with one another.

I, however, mostly interact with fire and steel... ;-) and this came out. It was inspired by a product of jorgencraft:

Knife from Biskupin, Poland

and was inspired by  the find of a knife found at Biskupin, Poland. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of the original...

Then Natalie arrived, daughter of my favourite misanthrope, Willy. She did a ride through the thicket and just dropped by to say hello and make some funny faces... ;-)
The knife quenched and tempered.
Also I made this all-steel camping hatchet. Leaf spring steel, not yet tempered, and forged to shape almost 100 % (no precutting the shape, mind you! ;-)). It will get a handle of reindeer or elk antler with carvings, or maybe yew or oak with carvings... we´ll see where it leads me.
Then suddenly the day was over and we made for the way home. I must admit...
...I missed riding in a pack...
...of funny people a lot. Even if the Belgian roundabout we tried did not quite work out for the folks where way too chaotic, it was cool to ride together... maybe a group ride in the future? We´ll see.

It was a cool day at the smithy, one we did not have for quite a long time, to be honest, and we feed on experiences like this, of course. I look forward to many more days like this!

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