Monday, August 27, 2007


Da trennt sich die Spreu vom Weizen

(separate the wheat from the chaff)

Another German idiom taken from the "wine talks with Manuella"

John and I met a couple of people when we first moved to our little village that we though would turn out to be good friends. They had us over for dinner and invited us to different functions. Then a few of months went by with little or no contact. We were confused because they seemed so eager to get to know us. John blames the language barrier and the fact that we don't smoke. I think that my constant coughing and opening windows just became a nuisance.

I told this to Manuella the other night. She said that when you are new to a place, meeting many new friends is like a field full of wheat.

In June the fields are full with wheat. The farmer comes in August to separate the wheat from the chaff. The chaff is considered the fruit, the best part. This is what horses love to eat. What remains is used to line the stalls. Thus the saying-separating the wheat from the chaff.

While I don't necessarily agree that our German neighbors can be compared to fodder, I still think it takes a couple of months to find out who your true friends are.

Separating the wheat from the chaff is not particular to people. The term is also used to choose things that are high quality from a group of mixed quality.

When my grandmother on my father's side passed away in 1989, my dad inherited the daunting task of cleaning out her house. He had to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to have an estate sale.

Since Grand-Maw Lucy lived through the Depression, this was not the easiest job to do.

To this day, I am still haunted by the closet storing the Great Imperial Wall Of Sugar.

Americans began stockpiling 10 pound bags of sugar a year before the US entered WWII.

I believe Grand-Maw could have run the black market out of her hall closet.

Sugar rationing began in 1942 allowing just 12 ounces per individual per week-that is only a cup and a half. Rationing continued after the war until 1946.

It took us all summer to clean out the house. We learned a lot about her, sifting through the multitude of boxes, closets and drawers. At times, it was more than we cared to know.

But how can one truly separate the wheat from the chaff with someone else's prized possessions?

Breaking down the sugar wall was a symbolic act for me. As I placed each hardened bag into my Dad's rusted wheel barrel, I was reminded of all the Christmas cookies, apple pies, and other sugary treats that made going to Grand-Maw's house complete.

I now have my own special meaning for separating the wheat from the chaff.

It may take some effort separating the sugar from the closet, but in the long run, you find out who your loved ones are............

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