Tuesday, August 4, 2009
German Lesson Number One: Feuerwanze
Except for flies and their offspring and, I suppose, cockroaches, I don't really have any problems with insects. In fact, I kept quite a few of them as pets when I was a child: crickets, a praying mantis, ants (ant farms rule but, um, please don't shake them...) grasshoppers, earthworms (though I didn't really understand that they had to stay IN the earth. Let's just say they didn't fair too well under the Arizona sun....) Yep, creepy crawly is pretty much ok in my book like, for instance, Feuerwanze.
Feuerwanze (Fire Beetles) are the little red and black insects shown in the photograph above. In Berlin, they appear sometime in the early spring and disappear sometime in the early fall. I've never been able to figure out what exactly happens to them. Do they bury themselves underground? Do they die each year, their eggs not hatching until the ground has thawed? Do they commit a mass, Lemming-like suicide, jumping into lakes and ponds by the thousands? Who knows....But the fire-engine red critters will always have a special place in my heart because they were one of the first German words I ever learned.
I moved to Berlin in late April and they were everywhere: scurrying across sidewalks, climbing along fences, congregating on trees and stumps. "What are those little insects called in German?" I asked. "Feuerwanze," they told me. Feuerwanze....
This Sunday, on a little family trip to Sakrow, I saw about a hundred of them hanging out on a stretch of bark in the sun. Most of the pictures I took were not in focus, but I like this one, where they seem to be filing out in single line.
Feuerwanze, ach, Feuerwanze! Ihr wart fast mein erstes deutsches Wort! ;)