Based upon my recent blog entries, you would never guess that I do things here in Damme besides eat. This area actually has a lot to offer. This is especially true if you are willing to step slightly outside of your comfort zone. For me, this mostly means saying “Ja!” when people ask me to do fun things. My normal behavioral pattern is to say “No” right away when anyone invites me to do anything. It doesn’t matter if I love you and enjoy your company: my body rejects spontaneity like some sort of neurotic reflex.
One of my personal goals while in Germany is to muffle this impulse. So, when my colleagues invited me for tapas on my second day in Damme, my head said “Oh… I don’t know… That seems kind of sudden… I have some moping to do alone in my apartment,” but I made my mouth say “Yes! Thank you for inviting me! That would be fun!” Because of course it would be fun, not to mention tasty. Silly Heidi!
I have also been saying “yes” to outings I might never have tried on my own. The feed mill in the next town is celebrating its 100th anniversary with an open house, tours and theater, you say? I’m in! Good thing, too: I had a giant cup of coffee and homemade cake there for 2 Euros, got some excellent photos of the local landscape from on top of the grain silos, and I got to see a theater group perform a dramatic interpretation of company’s history. They even managed to place it within Germany’s 20th century Grand Narrative. (Calling all historians: There’s a paper to be written here. Everyone in attendance was beaming with local pride because of the firm’s success.)
It turns out that saying ‘yes’ is absolutely worthwhile. I have been bowling, seen the move “Männer Herzen: Die ganz große Liebe” (ganz lustig und empfehlenswert), eaten mountains of ice cream, and been given a tour of local farms, barns and a bio-gas facility with a friend from school. Frau P., who owns my apartment, invited me to go on a bike ride with her one Saturday. We covered 30 kilometers, had cake and coffee, and I learned about the moor and the Römerschanze (large, hollowed-out areas in the moor where women, children and cattle stayed for protection during medieval wars). There was also the Räubermarkt, which was Damme’s a Herbstkirmes or fall carnival. On opening night, the local theater group performed excerpts from a play based upon a local legend. During the performance, the mayor tapped a keg of Herforder Pils with a wooden mallet Oktoberfest-style and gave out free mugs of beer. Damme may be small, but if the mayor serving free beer is wrong, I don’t want to be right.