In Hamburg Germany it rains a lot, but if you drive North for about two hours on the Autobahn from Hamburg to Husum, and from there take a ferry due west, you will come to a small island located under a small circle of sky, where the sun is shining on the North Sea. The name of the island is Pellworm. Pellworm doesn’t really feel like a real place. It is more like a little leggo town, or the Shire, or something out of a storybook.
Pellworm has a population of about 1200 people and a population of about 600 sheep, which roam freely across the grassy banks, throughout the streets, or down by the islands old windmill, or up by its famous lighthouse, (what’s the point of having fences on an island that you could bicycle the entire circumference of in 60min)? To keep track of the mating patterns of their sheep the farmers hang small balloons of colored paint under the stomachs of the ram (which essentially color code the ewe that the ram has chosen as mate), so the first thing that you will likely see upon arriving in Pellworm, is a flock of rainbow colored sheep grazing on the grass.
Pellworm has an usually drastic high and low tide, and at low tide the water can recede for miles. There are a couple of tiny Islands that neighbor Pellworm, each one with one or two houses and a few sheep. Twice a week during low tide the postman, with a mail sack and a compass, walks about 5 miles across the ocean floor to deliver mail to the neighboring islands.
Pellworm has a mailman, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, zero street lights, one stop sign, and one policeman, who according the Pellwormer, is always on vacation. But despite its small size, it is its own world, with its own culture, its own way of thinking, its own way of eating, and its own way of napping. Unlike other small towns, the people of Pellworm don’t live there because they are stuck and secretly long to be elsewhere. They live there because they love the good life of the Pellwormer. On Pellworm there is still a strong since of family and a strong since of community, genuine kindness, and good old fashioned hospitality. You will never go hungry on Pellworm, because the only thing that the Pellwormer enjoy more then eating, is making sure that you eat, and eat you will because the food is delicious and the fresh ocean air makes you really hungry, and after you eat be sure to take a walk down to the beach to watch the tide come in, and then go back to your bed and take a cozy nap, because eating and napping are a big part of the Pellworm life.
A large part of My Ex Husband, Bastian’s, family live on this Island and I am lucky enough to have been embraced by them as an honorary family member, so I have decided to escape the empty walls of my Hamburg apartment, and visit this magical place and the wonderful people who live there.
The Pellwormer are life eaters, they know how to enjoy the simple things in life, but they also know how to celebrate. When I went to the island for the golden wedding anniversary of Bastian’s Grandparents, Fritz and Emmy, the entire family began the festive day at around noon with fruehschoppen, which lasted long unto the night (fruehschoppen means early drinking). At night there was a huge celebration, Emmy wore a golden wreath on her head and danced and laughed with her husband of 50years like two newlyweds . They danced until I passed out at 2am, and long after that. My ex husbands grandparents danced and drank me under the table.
Bastian’s mother Anke…who is essentially my honorary 2nd Mother now lives in Hamburg but offered to drive me to Pellworm for the weekend with her and her Husband Richard. Anke works as and acupuncture therapist and is an energy healer, she is always reminding me to close the toilet lid at her house so that all of the good energy doesn’t get flushed away.
Her favorite quote is “Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day in your life,” (Mark Twain) and there is nothing that she wouldn’t do for the people that she loves. Richard is from America and he has countless crazy stories about when he fought in the Vietnam war, he has a low raspy laugh like a pirate, or a blues singer, and he is always saying something hilariously inappropriate. Anke and and Richard are madly in love, they bicker like siblings and they laugh like best friends, but the most important thing about their relationship is that they are the same in all of the ways that are important to each other, they love to eat good food, and be surrounded by beautiful things, and they celebrate life on a daily basis. They drink champagne every single Sunday, a weekly celebration which they call Sekt Tag (champagne day).
On my first night in Pellworm we met up with Ankes sister Sabine and visited the adorable cottage of Ankes brother Jens Uwe where he lives with his wife Telse and where they raised their four fair skinned and blond haired children Sven, Ove, Osa, and Svea. The crackling wood stove warmed the walls as several friends and family members came together and shared stories long past midnight.
The next morning I awoke to a large breakfast lovingly laid out and then went on a tour of the island to visit the ocean, the windmill, the lighthouse, and the Alte Kirche, a church built in the 11th century that despite many storms and floods has managed to survive centuries in almost one piece, I say almost one piece because part of it was burned down many years ago by a drunken pirate who was taking shelter there during a storm. That night I ate a salad, a huge casserole covered in cheese, and delicious German potatoes, and for desert German pancakes with applesauce.
On my last morning on the island I felt well rested and full of food. The family came by to say goodbye and fill me up with hugs and lots of love, and I returned to hamburg after my 2 days on Pellworm happy and magically refreshed.