Tag Archives: letters from germany

German Health Care through my Window

I might have mentioned before that I grew up in Germany.  I live german style.

One way of german life is to always have health insurance. I left my parents insurance when I became a student and immediately signed up to a german “public” insurance. I walked into the nearest office, showed them a passport and my student documentation and walked out signed up to a cheap student rate within an hour. Nobody asked me about any history of illnesses in the family or my own. If I ever wanted to change my insurance now, the fact that I had two caesarians would be irrelevant and my payable rate would be based on my income and not my current health status or age or likelyhood of illnesses as long as I stick with a public option, of which we have several to pick from.

Whenever I go to a doctor I show him my card, they pick up my details from the chip on it and I never see a bill or have to worry about the expense. Small charges on medicines or doctors visits for adults might occur, but we are talking in the range of 10 or 15 Euros.  Something negligible, when compared to paying the full price, yet something the public has accepted only grudgingly and is hoping will not last. This summer the monthly fee for our insurance actually went down, so savings the insurances make are passed on to us.

Over the years the insurances have developed many programs and incentives to improve the health of their insured and reward those clients that go for regular check ups by reducing the fee. Overall being healthier and catching illness early on can bring down the cost for healthcare, benefiting all, because this money can be used for other health issues.

While following the recent health debate in the USA I came across the excitement about end of life discussions. I asked a friend if we had similar provisions and where I could sign up for such a program. It turned out she had done it herself. All it meant is that she talked to her doctor about her own personal choices, put them in writing (a document with helpful questions is available) and left a copy with her doctor and children. She wanted to have control over what happened to her in a moment when she might not be responsive and at the same time be able to spare her loved ones the additional anguish of having to second guess her wishes.

This is, she does have a private insurance and they offer many of the features a public health insurance offers, except that they will charge a little more for pretty much everything more than basic. So if you are not younger than 30, healthy and male, expect to pay more and as you grow older, more and more and more. Surprise! It is private after all and they care more about the money than you. Private Insurances are a thriving business in Germany, because there are so many, many things you need insurance for (your car, your house, your trips, your tendency to break other peoples things – PLENTY – they don´t need health insurance to do well and drive around with fancy cars, which I paid for…. Grunt!).

I was able to take advantage of the social side of the system when I was temporarily unemployed. My insurance offered a reduced rate. This arrangement was  available for a limited amount of time. It ensured though that I was still paying into the system, while staying healthy and once I had a full time job again, my premiums automatically were adjusted to my earnings. They stood by me and I am a faithful client since 30 years.

Another very pleasant part are the regular check ups you are expected to make for your children. Until they are teenagers you are encouraged to bring them in at specified intervals to evaluate their development, catch problems early on or simply provide peace of mind. These visits are always voluntary, but many parents subscribe to the idea that better one doctors visit too many than one too few. (See Truegermans blog entry last week –  children are insured for free in the public option)

I know the system is not perfect. My personal grudge is that they are peevish about including homeopathic treatments. But a lobby of patients exists and people are making their opinions and positive experiences known to the insurers, so progress has been made and more will be made, if slowly. We could have single payer, but I´ll take this one in the meantime and enjoy that system when I am in England.

It is believed that a percentage of 0,25 of the population have no insurance due to varying reasons. But “Germany” believes that leaving them to their own devices creates more problems than if solutions were found to integrate this last pocket of insuranceless individuals. Since last year it has become obligatory to be insured and if you should have lost insurance due to extremely hard times the government is forcing insurers to provide affordable rates. Should you be uninsured because you were avoiding to contribute to the pot and expect the rest of us to pick up the tab and pay it from that said pot, well those days are over.

5 Million of the 85% of the population could choose to switch to a private insurance, as they are wealthy enough, to afford paying their own way. But they stay in the public option, although they would be paying cheaper monthly premiums for each individual (No children included. They need their own insurance). Why? Maybe, like me, they were not always that well off and their insurance stood by them. They didn´t forget.

And I have always felt safe. I never wondered if myself or my children should fall sick, if I would be able to afford treatment. I have never had to pay a bill up front, as they go straight to the insurer, saving everybody time and bureaucratic messes, providing myself a lot of peace of mind.

A worry, a big worry less, which is good for my mental health.

For the rest I hope just to keel over on my keyboard one day.

@Francesca

Useful Links:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesetzliche_Krankenversicherung

Versichertenstruktur

Etwa 85 Prozent der Bevölkerung in Deutschland sind bei einer der gesetzlichen Krankenkassen versichert.

Versicherte der gesetzlichen Krankenversicherung in Deutschland. Stand 1. Juli 2006

http://www.g-k-v.de/gkv/  Information in German about public option

For your Info: Once you have chosen a private option it is not so easy to switch back to a public option. A lot of foreigners coming here, thinking they will stay for only one year, decide for the cheaper private option. Ten years later, married and with kids and still in Germany, they wish they had thought long term. Some friends this happened to swear as well that the private insurer never mentioned they could not switch back so easily, au contraire.

 

NO I am not advertising for these guys, but they were the only ones that have a really good english page on german health insurance (they do have a very good reputation though  – so I feel confident their info will be reliable):

http://www.tk-online.de/tk/tk/english/the-right-choice/156480

Here´s a story that makes me think our system ain´t half bad:

http://www.themudflats.net/2009/09/20/welcome-to-the-death-panel/

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Mainz – Minipresse – Small Print?

One proud boy with his Grandpa´s book @Francesca

One proud boy with his Grandpa´s book @Francesca

This week-end the bloggers of this page attended the Mainzer Minipresse as exhibitors. Truegerman hand-made books and I was there to present my father´s first book. It was quite exciting and we met a number of interesting folks, with beautiful work on display. Here are some pictures:

Beautiful Riverside - Minipresse Tents Mainz @Francesca

Beautiful Riverside - Minipresse Tents Mainz @Francesca

Looking towards Mainz Kastell from the Rheingoldhalle @Francesca

Looking towards Mainz Kastell from the Rheingoldhalle @Francesca

My Dad´s book alongside handcrafted books from the Netherlands @Francesca

My Dad´s book alongside handcrafted books from the Netherlands @Francesca

The Vampire Cookbook on the News. Hurrah for Bluestove Editions our Co-Exhibitors @Francesca

The Vampire Cookbook on the News. Hurrah for Bluestove Editions our Co-Exhibitors @Francesca

Some of our favourites : Bluestove Editions – Cookbooks (Webpage will follow shortly), Nizza Verlag  – Books about Food in Frankfurt (www.nizzaverlag.de), our neighbour from the Netherlands at the Minipresse  – Handmade books, Calendars, with his own compositions and poetry (www.josephjohnvisser.nl) and sculptures of books with instruments from Hungary (www.martonbarabas.hu).

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Father – Daddy – Dad

I met my Dad coming out of a lift. I didn´t give him a chance of nervously pacing around a waiting room, sitting down and jumping up again. I was there when he arrived at the hospital, being carried around on the arm of a nurse.  I don´t remember this momentous meeting, but my father does.

What I remember are the times he took me to the printshops. I felt privileged to sneak a look at the enormous machines, smell the ink and see the huge paper rolls that were used to create the newspaper, which my father worked on. It was also very noisy, but I didn´t mind because that was part of the magic.

My Dad the journalist

I took it for granted that we lived in Europe, my father came from the States and had married an italian lady. Until recently I did not appreciate where he came from. In the course of this year we have spent many hours chatting about his childhood in a cozy midwestern town called Oak Harbor. We talked about the accident, which nearly killed him when he was seven and left him with one eye. We talked about him leaving his town and beginning life on his own at the University of Notre Dame (while still sending home all his wash ) and how he tried to get a foothold as cartoonist and journalist in the States after graduation.

He went to Europe as a tourist and decided to look for a job while there. He got lucky in Rome, where the “Daily American” was being published. A paper where, while it still existed, I also was able to visit the printshop. This is where he met a girl called Maria. He went off to Paris to work for the Herald Tribune, but found that he really missed the lady that became my Mother – Mummy – Mum. She joined him, while mastering climbing mountains of bureaucracy that were not used to dealing with an American and an Italian that wanted to get married in Paris in the year of 1957.

I discovered in our chats that he had saved every letter my mother and he wrote in this time of their long distance courtship. He saved every letter his mother sent him. He saved his lists of wash sent home from University. He saved every cartoon and copies of many of the articles he wrote.  We decided to go through all his material to organize it. For me it was like walking through time, discovering what was on my father´s mind and happening in his life at the time and with him there to explain and elaborate on pictures, drawings, stories and letters it all became real.

Sometimes things happen for a reason. I had just finished compiling an anthology for an adult learning course. It was a lot of work and of course I was doing it for free (which is something I cannot really afford, but who can nowadays). While we sorted through my Dad´s work I came upon familiar drawings of a pirate. He was called Captain Bucky and the drawings showed him golfing or skiing, things we normally don´t associate with pirates. But to my great surprise there were a lot more drawings of Bucky, which I had never seen and a story my father had written about the pirate. That´s when the pieces of the puzzle fell in place.

I had drawings. I had a story. I had an author and I had just learned how to create books. The idea was born and my father liked it. What a way to celebrate being over 80.

 

Pirate Bucky know what to do with Cannon Balls @John C. Krueger

Pirate Bucky knows what to do with Cannon Balls @John C. Krueger

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon the first print of “The Jolly Roger Twins – Pirates who fly Kites” will be produced. Little did I know there was a lot more learning to do, but throughout it all my Dad and I had a wonderful time creating his first book. And being 80 and suffering from makular degeneration, doesn´t stop him from making plans for the next one.

It will be called Roma Oma and Europa Opa.

@Francesca

Here is a sample of my Dad´s professional writing from the sixties:

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Darmstadt – Stadt der Künste – Believe It!

I should have been the last person to suggest writing about Darmstadt. I grew up there and nothing seemed better than getting away.

Yet when people say, “Darmstadt, why should I go there”, I get the urge to put the picture straight and it needs a lot of straigthening, because physically Darmstadt was completely destroyed during a “Firestorm” attack in September 1944 and the scarring becomes evident, when looking at old pictures of the former “Residenzstadt” and comparing it to what we have to today. Only a few of the buildings that remind of its former glory of “Residenzstadt” (City of residence/Royal Seat) to the Grand Dukes of Hessen were rebuilt and some of the original gems are hidden away on the Marienhöhe, where a Künstlerkolonie (colony for artists) was created and housed some of the finest artists representing “Jugendstil”  (Art Nouveau, Liberty Art) in Germany around 1900. The Russian chapel on the same premises reminds us of the close connections Darmstadt had to both the British and Russian Royal Families. Amongst old photos you might find one of Queen Victoria visiting. But looking at its town centre and several horrendous architectural mistakes of the sixities, seventies and eighties (and I am not sure about the most recent additions) it would be hard to believe that once it was also the capitol of earlier versions of Hessen.

Nowadays its fame is a secret tip. Would you know that “Darmstadtium” has been discovered here, or that is a renowned centre for “Neue Musik“, that it has Universities, its own Theatre and Opera and that ESOC – the European Space Operations Centre has been here since 1967. The list does not end here.

velde_234_w

Henry van de Velde, Schreibtisch, 1899 @HLMD

My days out in town included walking through the Hessische Landesmuseum (currently being renovated), whose exhibits were entirely free then (much appreciated by poor students that needed a place to meet which was dry, warm and interesting even on the worst days, which were more likely than not).  This was the place were my great affection for everything Jugendstil was born. The swinging forms of the furniture, the paintings and jewellery collected and displayed drew me to visit them over and over again. I would dream of one day sitting at such a piece of art, feels its smoothness and bathe my eyes in the harmony of the display.

Right next to the Museum is the former Theatre. For many years it housed a little cellar theatre and it was where I went for my first ballet classes. It was cold, drafty and I was mightily impressed by the perfectly round hole above the sink of the bathroom, which I was convinced was caused by a bomb. Then for many years it was declared unsafe and much later it was renovated and turned into an archive. 

I remember walking through an exhibit of Jugendstil posters on the Mathildenhöhe and afterwards enjoying a piece of Käsekuchen in the adjoining Café. Can life be any better. If you ever get a letter from Darmstadt make a note of the ink stamp on top of your stamp. The shape might remind you of a hand and it is the outline of the “Hochzeitsturm”  (Marriage Tower) or more endearingly “Fünf Finger Turm” (Five Finger Tower).

As a child I was part of a troupe of pre-school ballet dancers that would participate in various theatre productions (in the new theatre – don´t ask me what that looks like!). I remember representing a sack of gold in the Story Baba Yaga or jumping on the stage in Antigone. Other evenings had me in the audience watching a friend of my parents singing “Die verkaufte Braut”.

Later I performed at a local Jazzclub, which is housed in a Gewölbekeller, and heard about the archive dedicated to Jazz and held in Darmstadt. Darmstadt has a knack for archives it seems, even if they don`t always keep them, like the one that was created for the Bauhaus movement. Architecture certainly always had a playing field in Darmstadt and some of it it can be proud of like the Hundertwasser Haus called the Waldspirale, with is playful round shapes and rainbow colors that look fantastic from the outside, although I don´t want to imagine what it is like to furnish an appartment that lacks straight walls in a world in which straight is King.

Many dedicated and talented individuals got together in various “Vereine” Clubs to restore Music, Art and Science to the high standards that it had aspired to in Darmstadt before WWII. Being unaware of this as a teenager, I would frequently lament the provinciality and lack of opportunities of our little town.

Some time has gone by since I lived there and Darmstadt, seen from the distance, has surprised me again and again. At the last bookfair in Frankfurt I was drawn to the display of print machines of the old style. When speaking to one of the exhibitors he mentioned that they now housed all these machines in a Museum in Darmstadt. Due to the vast technological changes in the field, the many print houses in Darmstadt have either closed or are ridding themselves of the old machines, but former printers have volunteered to maintain the machines for the Museum and prevent the knowledge of the art being lost, in the hopes that people like me will realize that we need to preserve “real” printing for the beauty it transmits in the final printed book.

Another time I spoke to a well established italian musician during a stay in Italy, who mentioned that he had just returned from Darmstadt, where he had attended the “Neue Musik Tage”. Wander over the “Alte Friedhof” and you will be surprised by names of composers and writers, not only vaguely familiar. You speak to Engineers from other countries and they will praise the research at the University and Institutes of Darmstadt. Architects are aware of the Hundertwasser House and the Marienhöhe enchants countless tourists year by year with its unexpected beauty and those are only the “points of interest” I have heard of and discovered for myself over the years. Who knows what else is hidden beneath the surface of this book, always in the writing?

I learned that I should never judge a book by the cover.

@Francesca

More great links:

http://www.park-rosenhoehe.info/

 http://www.bauhaus.de/  

http://www.hlmd.de/w3.php?nodeId=361&page=2

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Maria_Wingler

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugendstil

http://www.darmstadt.de/kultur/index.html

http://www.akademie-fuer-tonkunst.de/

http://www.hlmd.de/w3.php?nodeId=300  hessisches landesmuseum

http://www.mathildenhoehe.info/

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftangriff_auf_Darmstadt

http://lernarchiv.bildung.hessen.de/sek_i/geschichte/epochen/zeitgeschichte_1917-1945/nazsoz/kriegsende/hessen/galerie/index.html/exibition/?image=zerst_da.jpg

 http://www.webarchiv-server.de/pin/archiv03/4603ob22.htm

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschichte_der_Stadt_Darmstadt

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That Photo Album

Everbody used to have one of those, the Album of photos taken under the most daring circumstances resulting in one in a million images.

A friend from Ohio was telling me about his photos, which he made climbing all over the ice that was swept up on a highway during the sixties, near the lake where he lives in Ohio, so high that bulldozers could not shift the ice. He risked serious damage to himself climbing all over the mountain, which stood higher than the telephone poles, to conserve the images for posteriority. The chunks of ice themselves were as large as automobiles. Nature impressed with its strength and immensity.

The special set of photos my spouse made were taken hanging off a cliff in England to catch the seagulls in flight as they dipped and fell for the pure fun of it, gliding on the wind and showing off their amazing skills. He was mesmerized by their art and freedom.

They are very special pictures and they all ended up in the Album-Of-Pictures-That-Never-Were, because when my Ohio friend and my spouse got back from their respective excursions they realized they had no film in their cameras.

Enough time has passed to allow us to laugh at this misadventures. Hopefully enough time has passed for the friends of TrueGerman to forgive, that all the pictures of them standing with Lech Walesa, the hero of Solidarność, were exposed to light, because unbeknown to Truegerman the film had got stuck in the camera and when the camera was opened the film was destroyed.

The brain usually tried to warn us. There was this nagging feeling, this did I remember, I must have put in film or the funny how many photos I seem to have on this roll. But either we were too excited or to sure of ourselves to listen to the subtle message.

I speak of these kind of events in the past tense as most of us amateur photographers will have switched to digital cameras by now, as have a lot of professionals. No more counting the frames to see how many pictures still can be taken, no take one more picture so we can fill up the film and take it to be developed.

This is Catawba when spring is about to arrive. Makes me wonder what it is like when it is winter!

This is Catawba when spring is about to arrive. Makes me wonder what it is like when it is winter! @Bob Schraidt 2009

Nowadays I don´t worry so much about my unsteady hands when I am asked to take pictures for perfect strangers, like the chinese group of visitors at the grave for Karl Marx in London this summer. I know the cameras they use will prevent any wobbles and they can immediately regard the result with obvious satisfaction.

We are experiencing a world that is technically becoming more sophisticated. It allows us to perfect our interactions and our art, by compensating for our weakness and failings. We can produce more of everything and always less flawed. And yet we don´t. 

As if to reassure  us the camera will imitate our imperfections: batteries fail in cold weather or an automatic flashlight will overexpose a picture. We still have the chance of making the AlbumOPTNW and I recommend that we do.

I did not make pictures of the chinese tourists with my camera, but in my mind the image of the well-heeled tourist groups of chinese visitors filing past the grave of their hero is an image I will not forget.

I remember the seagulls and how my spouse climbed the rocks to get the perfect picture. I still feel the wind, that held the seagulls up, coming in from the sea, the sun that would peak through the clouds, the smell that makes landlubbers like me  remain rooted to the spot, face into the wind and simply wanting to breathe as deeply as possible. Maybe that is what freedom smells like.

My friend in Ohio remembers the childlike thrill of climbing the ice, the sight from a viewpoint no one else could put a claim on, his breath coming fast from the effort of the climb and his wonder.

And his laughter later that day at the thought ,”That´s another one for the Album.”

@Francesca

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Thanksgiving – Typical American or Maybe Not

I remember how we celebrated our Thanksgiving. Turkey baking smells wafted through the house for hours. Breading that melted on our tongues, yams and cornbread were served and we stuffed ourselves so silly that we barely were able to get up from our chairs and crawl to the sofa where we waited for the first signs of peckishness. This was the perfect moment for pulling out the pecan pies and for my mother to start the coffee. So far so very typical.

 

Except that the talented cook was my Italian mother and I lived in Germany, with my American father and my three sisters. It was the seventies and we gave our German Neighbors many opportunities to shake their heads and wag their tongues in wonderment at our strange habits. We spoke English amongst ourselves, German as fluently as natives, attended local schools, but preferred to shop in a bi-monthly shopping spree at the PX, which was only accessible to special ID Holders and read the Sunday Comics.

 

For at least the duration of a week after Thanksgiving, my school friends would regard my school sandwiches with envy, as the leftovers found their way into my school supplies. In those days you could only find Turkey in inaccessible American shops. This has changed since, but then I enjoyed an exotic diet.

 

Thanksgiving was for the family. After my older sisters moved out they made sure to find their way back home on that day. Boyfriends and later husbands, sometime later grandchildren to my parents joined. As our family expanded so did the table and we squeezed around it to share our bread and turkey.

 

At some point my father always made “The Picture”. Lamplight shone in our eyes and we tried not to squint. We held on to our cheese smile but our facial muscles soon shook from the effort as the preparations stretched and my father looked for the perfect angle, lighting and setup. “Move a little closer”, he said as he climbed on a chair, which wobbled under the tall man’s feet. He climbed down again, took more measurements of the light until he was satisfied, climbed back on the chair and finally we heard the relieving click. Well relieving until my Dad said, “Let’s make another one to be sure” and a collective sigh of “oh no” circled the table. A lot of those pictures have been made over the years as the ritual was repeated whenever we had guests, birthday parties, Christmas or Easter to celebrate saved in numbered albums which we leaf through with enjoyment.

 

Although we lived in a small town surrounded by farms I did not know any farmers. The land was fast disappearing, swallowed by one suburbia development after another. We lived in one of those new areas. Many of my neighbors came from eastern regions, from which they had fled during or shortly after the war. The new street names were bitter-sweet reminders of their origins: Brandenburg, Sachsen and Thüringen. They grew vegetables in their gardens or even reared pigs and kept hens—more reminders of the land and life they left behind.

 

The rest of us “Neubürger” (new citizens) had to buy the goods that were offered when it was time for the “Erntedankfest” in church (Harvest Thanks Giving) service.

 

As a child I did not wonder why I was celebrating either Erntedank or Thanksgiving. It never occurred to me that the celebrations might be related. One was a church celebration that I experienced in a German environment, the other a typical American tradition, which I grew up with, in what I now realize, was an untypical family.

 

Nowadays the turkey is smaller, not only because we tend to all be on diet, but because European appliances, to which we have switched, are smaller. We can buy the bird in German shops, along with Yams and corn flour. We arrived in this country with little more than a tradition and now our food followed us. The world becomes a bit smaller and more familiar in strange places.

 

And is that not what Thanksgiving is about, is that not what makes my family so American and so typical after all? We have arrived on unfamiliar shores and are pioneers once more, coming together to celebrate our safe arrival and the making of new lives.

 

@Francesca

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Thanksgiving – The German Way

“I always wondered why your Thanksgiving is later than ours”, I asked Francesca. “Does your harvest season end that late?”

She laughed, ”American Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the harvest. It is all about the Pilgrim Fathers and eating turkey.”

In Germany, Thanksgiving is about going to church. Every first Sunday in October we celebrate “Erntedankfest” or “Thank you for the harvest” in English. If you are in Germany and missed out on Christmas and Easter, Erntedankfest is another chance to attend a special mass. All over the country, fruits, vegetables and grain decorate the altar. Most likely you will hear a choir singing “Großer Gott wir loben Dich”. If you smell incense, you are in a catholic church.

When I grew up in the countryside in the 60ies and 70ies, I understood the meaning of this celebration very  well. In our little mountain village, self-sustainability was not a fashion but a necessity. Everybody had a cow or two for milk and cream, two pigs for sausages and meat, hens for eggs, a big garden for vegetables, baskets for picking wild raspberries, blueberries and mushrooms and a huge cool cellar to stock potatoes and carrots, with shelves full of preserves. To celebrate–and to show off–on Erntedankfest we would bring wicker baskets full of home grown stuff to church and place them in front of the altar.
You might know the German saying, “Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen” – “work first, celebrate later”. There was a lot of work to be done till we could sit down in church and rejoice. Though, for me as a child, the work was fun.

I was lucky to grow up in a place where “Füchse und Hasen sich gute Nacht sagen” – “where fox and hare meet to say goodnight”. In this narrow mountain village, agricultural mechanization meant a tractor and nothing more. Therefore, during harvest season, every hand counted, even small ones.

When we children followed the hand-pushed mower at sunrise, picked up the grass with wooden forks and threw it in the air to spread it evenly for the sun to dry, we knew we were important. When we raked the grass again into swathes at night, we knew we protected the sweet smelling hay from the morning dew. When we rushed out to form haystacks when a thunderstorm built up over the hills,  we knew that we saved the winter´s forage for the farm animals. And when we rode the hay home on a swaying cart, we knew that in winter we would sneak away from our mothers to jump from the wooden beams of the barn into the soft hay—and would be punished by our fathers for ignoring their ban of the barn.
In later years, my memories of these summers faded from golden and green to pale sepia. I got hay fever, went to live in the city and never came near a haystack for thirty years. Then, this June, I decided that I needed a dose of green, to balance the grey I see each time I look out of the window.

“Can I come and visit you?”, I emailed my friends Barbara and Albert, recently turned into hobby farmers. When they invited me, I filled my bags with books I wanted to read on their terrace, surrounded by  the healthy air of the Black Forest.

When I arrived, they hugged and kissed me, showed me the terrace, and said: “I hope you don´t mind that you won´t see us till late at night. We have to rake the hay.”

“To rake the hay? This is 2008. Nobody rakes the hay anymore.”

“We do. The slopes are too steep.”

“Ok, I´ll help you today and then we are through with it.”

“Hm, we will have to rake it into swathes in the evening and then spread it again early in the morning at least three times, our neighbour says.”
“Three times” I cried . “What a waste of time. There must be another way of doing this. Let me check the internet.”

Half an hour later,  I had found it. “Look, how they do it in New Zealand. They just cut the grass, spread it and then leave it for a few days to dry. That’s the way to do it.”
So we tried it this way and enjoyed an evening of friendship and good wine on their terrace.
The next morning, the grass that had already been 90 percent dry in the evening, was green and wet again.
Humbled, I left the terrace and started to shake and rake, hour after hour. The sun burnt my face, my arms ached, my nose itched.  Late in the afternoon, with half of the work still do be done, I started to develop a business plan: hay making instead of boot camps to form a team. Wouldn´t stressed out corporate managers pay good money for this old-time experience? We could call it: “Zen and raking the hay with one fork” or “The ultimate battle: How to survive a day at work without a computer”.

I survived. Two months later, on Erntedank, I decided to give my son the chance to learn where milk comes from. So we went to see Barbara and Albert again. He came back a different boy.

But that is another story.

Truegerman

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