When we awoke the second morning in Bremen, our hosts laid out a large German breakfast again, complete with fresh brötchen, an assortment of cheeses and meats, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, etc. Our girls were the most excited about the wurst slices shaped like bears. We devoured our favorite meal of the day, slathered on the sunscreen, packed up the kids and gear, and drove an hour north to Cuxhaven for our extra special super dirty day at the mudflats.
Low-tide is especially low in this portion of the North Sea. If you are standing on the beach you can’t even see the water and you can walk out to some of the barrier islands. This wide expanse of muddiness is called the mudflats, and I only knew the German word for it (Watt) until we looked up the translation of the word on the internet recently. I am a Midwesterner after all, and I spent a whole summer waiting tables on one of these barrier islands (Norderney) where I was introduced to the concepts and vocabulary of coastal living auf Deutsch. I hold a very special place in my heart for northern Germany, and not just because of their easy to understand hoch Deutsch, and this day spent at the beach and mudflats really only served to cement this LOVE.
Anyone who has small children will know that I am glossing over the nitty gritty ugly details of how fun it ISN’T to schlepp 4 children ages 1-4, 4 adults, and all the accompanying gear, snacks, drinks etc required for a day out onto a sandy beach. The husbands dropped the moms, 90% of the gear, and the 4 kids off near the entrance and then searched for a place to park the cars. We ladies found a spot to camp and got everything set up only to have the men arrive 20 minutes later to tell us they had rented a Strandkorb 100 meters away. We were thankful for the Strandkorb, but not so thankful that we had to pick up and move again with the 4 kids, a beach ½ tent, a stroller, 4 kids, etc etc etc. At least the men were there to help.
Here we are sitting in the Strandkorb. I've decided that we MUST have one in our garden when we finally own a house!
This was the view from our Strandkorb.
Once we got re-set-up with our gear, the Wattwandern began. (Literally: Mudflat hiking.) Annika was acting adorably cautious, which is completely against her nature. When I asked her why, she told me, “I don’t want to get too dirty Mama.” Seriously kid? I gently reminded her that it was our extra special super dirty day and that she is certainly washable, and she promptly plopped down on her belly and started doing a crawl through the mud.
The kids passed the day searching for crabs and sea worms and constructing sand castles, while we adults took turns sitting on the beach and wandering with the kids. It was marvelously relaxing, especially as the tide stays out until almost 3:45pm so I wasn’t constantly fretting about anyone drowning.
This was the biggest crab they found.
Squelch Squirch Squelch Squirch Squelch Squirch!
The mud makes this amazing crackling popping sound as you are walking along and the air is escaping. This picture hardly does justice to the way it is covered in tiny holes and foot prints. It was a great work out for my legs trying not to slip while at the same time pulling my feet up from the muck.
Here are the men with the 3 bigger kids wandering out, and we still couldn't see the water.
Mayzie doing some serious sand play.
When the tide was about 150 meters from the shore, I walked out to the edge of the water with our girls. We walked the water in toward the shore and rinsed off some of the mud from the day.
We arrived back at the W house, bathed and fed the kids, and bedtime was MUCH easier than the previous night. We ordered pizzas for the grown-ups and sat on the porch chatting. LW came over again with another friend of ours and we all had great laughs telling BK (before kids) stories and reminiscing about our shared pasts. Isn’t that the best thing about old friends? I love that my husband gets to hear stories about me from before he knew me from men who have known me for most of my life. I feel incredibly lucky to have these amazing friends in my life still and even luckier that even as we have grown up and changed, we still have so many things to talk about and relate. (Sorry, getting a little mushy!)
As the light finally faded in Northern Germany that night (at 10:30pm), I knew that day was something special. It was one of those days that you wish would never end, when the hours never seem long enough and the clock mocks you with its quick pace. The day was not without hiccups: I carried a kicking and screaming Mayzie the entire 1km back to the car from the beach while horrified Oma onlookers mocked with the faces of scorn for example. But this day was amazing for the simplicity and slow paced joy and even some moments of relaxation that it brought. I will never forget this day or the lovely people that made it so special!