Nature today is bound up. Neatly trimmed, contained within a set location and protected from the overgrowing metropolitan weeds which threaten to eradicate the indigenous plants. In this landscape from barren industrial warehouses to antique apartments which might display the occasional basil pot plant, where does one find resources to survive? It might be your first instinct to seek out conglomerate stores however today I’d like to share an alternative way of being.
When searching for a metal railing, a bookshelf or chair in Germany today one does not firstly head to IKEA. !SHOCKING! Even the secondhand stores are second choice in this regard. Rather a simple stroll on Friday through some densely populated areas will yield free wonders! Outside homes one can find entire lounge sets neatly set up as though waiting for a family to return home from work or school. Kitchenware already wrapped in newspaper, packed neatly in boxes waiting for your pickup. With some tender love and care, these items can be used to fully furnish your new home and provide fresh colour, a mix of eclectic styles and it won’t cost you a euro. I go nowhere without my 2 litre thermal flask of tea, specially chosen from the shelves of Steinfurter Strasse.
This is a bit more of a touchy subject but in Germany living off the land, especially in September, is the real deal! A cycle through the smaller farming communities can often yield a feast. Wild apple trees grow freely along the narrow country roads, fill up your backpack and enjoy making some fresh Apfelmus! A walk through forested woods can have you returning home with treasures including Sweet Chestnuts or ‘Maronen’ which are superb roasted with salt or cinnamon. Collect as many as possible in September and stock up for the winter. Identify edible Maronen by their super spiky green exterior, like an urchin and don’t mistake them for the inedible Horse Chestnuts which are everywhere! The best for last, blackberries are in plentiful! Identifiable by their vine like structure and large thorny stems. Pick carefully and best enjoyed in a peanut butter smoothie! FoodSharing* is also an emerging culture where fruits and vegetables are saved from the local market which are thought of as ‘bruised’ and discarded. Through apps and social platforms it’s easy to find a FoodSharing location where you can pick up some colourful variety for dinner. Often a delicious hot lunch of potatoes, salad and tzatziki may be on the menu. DIG IN!
These simple discoveries has made Germany an interesting and accessible country to settle into. It brings one closer to nature and searching out chestnut trees can particularly rewarding. Nothing tastes better than your first collected maronen!
This piece of writing is dedicated to my dad who has always taught me how to rely on my surroundings, to be resourceful and independent! I hope I have carried on in your footsteps, happy birthday Xx – J
© This work is subject to copyright (07.12.2019)
All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport