Nine years ago, I was sipping a cup of deliciously decadent, silky-smooth, hot chocolate for a minimal price at the Rathaus Cafe in Offenbach, Germany.
I remember glancing at the temperature gauge, noting it was zero degrees celsius outside, before watching a squirrel, as he scurried around the branches of the weeping tree nearby. It was the first time we had seen a squirrel, more familiar as we were with marsupial creatures with young in pouches. We were fascinated.
The large, deciduous tree was fast losing the remainder of its pugnacious, golden-brown, Autumnal leaves and stood like a slowly wilting sentinel, witnessing the imminent passing of its foliage’s use-by-date.
To some, it might be just a tree, in a not so unique village in Germany. To me, this tree was like a wrinkled, weathered face: elegant, wise and experienced in its maturity and so very different from anything back home.
It wasn’t just magnificent, this tree had history. Not only did it provide shade and shelter, it emanated clean air as large trees do and contrasted ever so softly with the harsh lines of the historically significant structures around it.
This majestic beast framed the entrance of a park adjacent to the white neo-baroque manor house that, to me, resembled what I imagined to be a ‘Von Trap,’ style mansion. Having just arrived from the subtropical heat of a humid Australian city, I thought I had stepped into heaven!
Busing Palais in Offenbach
The Busing Palais in Offenbach was home to 18th-century entrepreneurs Peter Bernard and Johann Georg d’Orville, and the likes of Goethe would spend summers there. All but destroyed in 1943, this manor house was rebuilt to become a Museum, Library and of late, a conference centre.
Not only that but a Scloss, or Castle and Chapel completed a heritage square nearby.
As much as I enjoyed the architecture, the Festival of Leaves around me was the real jewel in the crown.