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The Tree, 2001
Lifting Poles with Ropes May 1st, 2001, Hohenbachern

We are here again! Yahoo! We didn't think there would not be another may pole raising in Hohenbachern until 2002. However, a serious structural problem developed in the footing of the last years's May Pole and it had to be taken down early. So, a new tree will go up this year even though this would normally be an "off year" with no new May Pole. We're particularly happy about it because our friends Elisa and Drew from Columbus are here to visit us, and we are tickled pink to share the event with them. And our friends Johan and Danelle, who live next to us in Hangenham, also came and brought their family along. 2001 is the third Hohenbachern May Pole raising that we have had the pleasure of participating in. Honestly, it has become our favorite Spring celebration. And this pastoral little Bavarian village must have some special magic because, as in previous years, although the weather prediction was dismal and the day began with cold mists of rain, by mid morning the sun was burning great patches of dazzling blue sky through the clouds. By 10:00 a.m. we were all peeling off or jackets and searching for our sunglasses. A gorgeous Spring day, the first of the season. The pole raising takes about 3 hours. This years tree was enormous. Even laying on the ground it looked tall. In Hohenbachern they use a tractor to raise the tree the first few feet off the ground. At that point the guild shields appropriate to the village are attached on the sides of the tree and some other decorations are sorted out. Teams of men bring out the many long sets of poles that will be used to inch the tree skyward and groups of "lifters" begin form along the length of the pole. There is a fellow who is in charge of the lift. I don't have any idea who he is or why he is the one who calls all the commands, but it has been the same man each of the three years we've been here. The tree is lifted using sets of poles in ordered length. The lifting poles are tied together with thick knots of rope. There are also poles of matching length that are thinner and have big hooks on the end. The hooked poles are used to support and steady the pole while the lifting poles reposition. This year the "pole raising foreman" didn't approve of the way in which the ropes on several of the lifting poles were tied and retied many of them himself. As the tree is pushed higher and higher more and longer sets of hooked and tied poles are pushed up under the tree. Once all the poles and men are under the tree the teams begin inching their poles forward along the pole. It is fascinating. And all the while the "foreman" is marching back and forth along the street shouting orders and warnings; few of which we understand except for the "Baum hoch!" command at which all the men give a mighty push. The children played and read stories in shade, the neighbors chatted and commented on the tree's progress. Matthias and Bob helped with the pushing. Around noon the tree was declared fully upright by the "foreman" and we all all scrambled for places along the long narrow beer garden tables that had been set up nearby. Lots of cold delicious Bavarian beer and flavorful roasted chicken followed. By the way, these chickens are awesome. Covered in herbs and slowly roasted on a big rotisserie, the aroma of them cooking is enough to make you faint with hunger. I'm getting hungry just thinking of them. Good company, good food, fine weather, a holiday, a garden filled village, a new May Pole.
Life can be truly enjoyable.

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