As winter makes its grey and gloomy entrance (wait, is that any different than fall?) and we say our final goodbye to leaves, here’s my annual mushroom post. What can I say, I’m a fungi (heh).
An ode to the outdoors
We live nextdoor to a rather large park with a trail that loops around a couple ponds and through the woods. It’s a lush place that makes you forget you’re just a few yards from a Stadtbahn station and only a kilometer away from the city center. This park is, to me, my backyard, and I’m pretty sure the locals feel the same way. Parks are a big deal here, and from my (thrice daily) walks through them, I have learned a lot about Germans and their relationship with the woods.
Here are 5 weird things Germans do in parks.
When the weather is good, the parks are full. People will camp out on the park benches and just sit with their heads to the sky. When the weather is poor, people will bring their own blanket and thermos, and still sit in the park. When winter comes and the park service removes the benches for the season (not sure why they do this, but they do), people will bring their own chairs and still sit in the park. You can’t keep a German from their parks.
The woods is a free bathroom. I have seen people, young and (VERY) old, drop trou in the park and relieve themselves on the side of the path (or sometimes literally on the path) or deeper in the woods. If you see someone coming out between some bushes or trees, they were probably peeing. If I had a dollar for the number of bare butts I have seen while walking the park…
They treat the park like their own personal garden, often trimming away flowers (with their own garden shears), or picking wild berries and herbs. Here, students are taught about the local plants in schools, and grow up eating Feldsalat and blackberries pulled off the bushes on the way home from school….all probably fertilized by their own trail-side bathroom breaks.
Free range dogs
While most of the dogs are very well trained and well behaved, nearly all of them roam through the parks without a leash (and sometimes without a collar). I couldn’t do that…The second Sherlock sees a squirrel, I’d lose him to the wilds.
They enjoy it
Growing up, I lived down the street from a park that was nearly always empty. Granted, It was basically just a baseball field and a play area, but if you went all the way to the edge next to the embankment, you could pretend you were somewhere other than concrete suburbia. Here, people use the parks. They take walks on the weekends, they bike the trails, they sit.
I won’t be adopting all their habits (I prefer my toilets indoors, thank you very much), but living here has given me a greater appreciation for the outdoors, and the simple things, like watching the birds dig in the grass, or climbing through the bushes to get a good picture of a mushroom.