A wise person once told me, “Do not write about things that you know nothing about”. Too bad – there are a lot of subjects that I know nothing about, much more than I know about. Seems to me, when I think of talk shows I have seen lately, that talking about things that you know nothing about can be quite lucrative. “Ignorance is bliss” takes on a new meaning. Ignorance is blissful and lucrative.
But not only is it unwise, I also dislike writing about things I know nothing about. The problem is today I wanted to write about walking but after reading the piece by Truegerman about rambling I realize that I know nothing about it. I mean, rambling for 20 km’s! With kids too! Uphill! (A few more “!!!” just for good measure)
I could write about NOT rambling. I do the walking thing, the one after Sunday Lunch on the way to cake at a Gaststätte which offers “Kaffee und Kuchen”, which bridges that enormous gap between Lunch and Dinner (did I mention that I like food?). The saying goes “Nach dem Essen soll man ruhn oder 1000 Schritte tun” (After eating either rest or walk a 1000 steps).
It does not say anything about what you do after the 1000 steps but every German knows that there should be a self-respecting Gaststätte (rustic kind of restaurant) in a wood or field, anyway in the middle of nowhere, that offers enormous lunches and between 3 an 5.30 o’clock those delicious desserts that erase any beneficial effect the 1000 steps had. Maybe it would be better to take a nap.
I could write about riding my bike. Riding a bike around here is not only easy because it is relatively flat, but also because wood paths are well taken care of and city streets offer cycle paths almost everywhere. The trend to take the car for every little errand happened here too, but generally it is something to be embarrassed about. With increasing fuel prices (we pay 1.2 Euros (1.5$) per litre today down from 1.6 Euros (2$)) that trip to the corner shop is becoming an increasingly bike fuelled activity again. Large baskets take care of most of the shopping, especially as Germans tend to go shopping several times per week. Patient Bicyclists wait for a spot at overcrowded cycle parking spaces. People with heart conditions are told to work out by walking or cycling every day.
Children are encouraged to conquer the “Großstadtdschungel” to alleviate congestion in front of schools, that do not provide car parking and would never be able to, due to lack of space downtown. I have not seen any walking busses yet (Children join a group of walkers as they are being implemented in Britain and Switzerland. They are picked up at a series of “bus” stops). Public Transport runs frequently and children either pay reduced or no charges. School Buses can only be found in rural areas.
I rode my bicycle to school, usually in company of classmates. It gave me a sense of independence. Even when I was strapped for cash I could swing on my “Stahlross” (steel horse) and ride off to see friends in the next town. It was also adventurous, as I would go with the vaguest idea of where they lived and got lost along the small alleys until I hit on the right route. The reward was having found my way by myself.
The world passed by slower and I could admire the gardens and houses, note the gnomes, murals or THE replica Frankenstein castle. Of course, once at the houses of my friends, they would feed me (Did I mention that I like food?) and we would go for a walk. A particularly memorable walk was being dragged behind a dog called Ursus (I believe Bear in Dutch, type Neufundländer) which belonged to my Dutch classmate. I should have tried riding him instead of holding on to his leash.
Now I accompany my youngest child to and from school on the bike every day. We chat or fight or ride silently. Sometimes he dashes ahead in some wild imaginary chase. Today the storm slowed our cycling to walking speed and threw dangerously painful branches at us. When we dashed into the house for safety we were laughing with delight at our achievement and were glad to be back in the warm, safe house.
This is something I know about. You slow down and live every moment. Everything you do is done by the effort of your own body. Everything there is to see can be seen by you. If you want to stop and smell the roses hanging over fences, you do. You can hear the birds that chatter in the trees above you. If you slow down, you see more and maybe you see for the first time, something that was right there waiting for you to see it. If you are afraid of missing something then slow down.
I still might hesitate to accept an invitation to ramble with Truegerman though (20 km’s????!!!! or “Ach Du grüne Neune”).