My father lives in the village. The village is small and nicely situated between green hills. Twenty houses gather around the church like chicks around a clucking hen. Nearby a cemetery and pond are to be found.
Seventy people live in the village. That is less than in a single house in the capitol. Still, many villagers don’t talk with each other. Because the dog Hasso finished off the laying hen in 1983. Because of the property cheating up there in the nut tree meadow. Or because Birgit spent all night with Norbert on top of the stand at the palace copse but still did not marry him in the end.
I have leased the village pond. I have chopped the grass with the scythe, I have cut the pollard willow or I have been sitting on the red bench listing to the frogs. And I have added fishes for spawning.
Two weeks ago I invited the whole village for raiding the pond. The villagers arrived with buckets and curious looks. There was beer, coffee and home-made cake. The water level sunk and at last many fish bags appeared on the ground. Round-bellied carps and golden-eyed tenches ended up in the dip net. Even two pikes looked angrily through the net. Every raising of the net was accompanied by stunned cries. Laughing splashed around, and many smiling faces were seen. The fish were weighed and distributed among the villagers.
And they were even talking with each other on that day.
Pictures by Jörg Neumann, Jena
Translation from German by Kristin Höltge, London