Dirt paths, silver birch trees spreading the greenest of leaves, and perfectly mild weather. The entire afternoon was magical.
Through the woods, talking about wild herbs, work, family.
We filled our bottles at the fresh water spring. Supposedly there is a water nymph living there. Carved on the right side of the stone, you can see the year it was discovered: 1890.
"This is the road that leads to the Fischer cottage," Gerit said. I had passed it many times but never gone down that road. It was very still; just us and the birds. It was quite a long way, but finally, Gerit led us to an opening in the woods. And like magic, a field appeared...
The sheer beauty of this place made my heart pound. This small photograph hardly does it justice. The view over green hills into the hazy blue distance was breath-taking. We trudged down the field and I wondered where the cottage was, as there was no sign of a house or a road.
We neared a blossoming orchard and Gerit told us it was right past these trees. I kept wishing I could walk in slow motion, or hold onto this moment longer. The beauty was almost unreal. I felt this was a place that only existed if you stepped into a faery ring. I kept trying to convince myself that this place was real, that it was just an hour long hike away from my home. Now I was getting very curious what old Mrs. Fischer would be like.
We passed a barn and a shed. Blossoming trees everywhere. And a few sheep. Maria tried to give them some of the wild mint we had found on the way, but they were afraid of the dogs and stayed in the shade of their shed.
Past the sheep we came to the farmhouse; chickens and roosters everywhere...dozens of potted plants and trees...and a couple of wooden tables and benches where we sat down and waited. And then she came. And my goodness, look at her! Her dress! Her apron! Her little woolen shoes! Her smile! Old Mrs. Fischer. I was in love.
We ordered apple wine and juice, and bread with butter and cheese. Her son brought it out for us while Mrs. Fischer talked with us. She seemed quite pleased to have guests, and it was such a fine day. I snuck photos of her and hoped she either didn't mind or didn't notice.
We took turns asking questions...it seems we were all fascinated by this woman who lived in a hidden valley with no street leading to it, who looked like she belonged to another time. She was kind enough to answer our questions.
She told us that the house where she lived was the house she was born in. Her grandfather, a Slav, had bought it over 120 years ago. It had been built for the men who worked in what was at that time a stone mine. Her grandfather bought it as a summer house for his family. Eventually it became her parents' home, and hers.
She told us that the sheep weren't giving milk now because there was no ram. When she had a ram, they made lovely milk, and she made cheese with it and sold it to people who stopped by.
One of us asked what it was like to live here with no street and no car. She answered: "A car isn't important"
She said that she has two stoves, and they gave enough heat in winter. She said she didn't need any electric heaters.
When asked about her animals, she said that at some point there were 67 cats living in and around her home. Now there was only one. And a very old blind dog.
The duck and the chickens roamed free. She said they come when they want and go when they want. There was one particularly proud and beautiful rooster which I managed to catch on camera while Mrs. Fischer spoke.
Mrs. Fischer was so wonderfully bright. She could hear everything and could speak in clear sentences. I loved watching her talk. She was so incredibly content. When she said, "I was born here, and I've been here ever since," her face was glowing. When I asked which kinds of fruit trees she had and she answered, "Every kind there is," she had a little chuckle in her voice.
Another small group of travellers arrived, and when we finished our drinks, we said goodbye, and set off, refreshed, into the green.
As we made our way back up through the meadow, I stopped to look back at the flowering trees which hid the treasure that is Mrs. Fischer. I felt so blessed to have met such a soul. That there are still people like her. And I was grateful that I had had the chance to talk to her, and take a few photos.
I was overcome with the strange feeling that I might never go there again, or that if I did, it wouldn't be there anymore. It was such a magical little piece of this world. And I am just so glad I saw it, and met Mrs. Fischer.
I'll share the rest of the beautiful hike with you in my next post. It was quite a day.
xoxo country girl