The Things I remember...
My first impression of the Country I came to love was... Urrrrrgggghhhh!
I had grown up in Germany, a Country where most people take pride in what they own. Days were filled with certain rituals. On Saturdays every 'Haus' owner was out on the streets sweeping the sidewalk. And if you weren't, either your neighbors or even the Mayor (in the small town I considered my home) would find out why! Similar to the grass-mowing ritual here in the States (if I don't cut my grass often enough, my neighbors will find out why or cut it for me... Hmmmmh! Worth a consideration, since I only have two usually breaking push-mowers to cut 5.5 acres!!!), people would get displeased if you didn't take care about your sidewalk. Other rituals included a clean car. Since it is illegal to wash your car in your yard (pollution considerations), you would head to the car-wash and stand in line. It was also illegal to have a non-function car in your yard/driveway for more than a certain time; especially if it was leaking fluids! And junk yards charge heavily!
So here I get off the plane in Pittsburgh, PA and enjoy a drive 'home' through a beautiful countryside until... Welcome to West Virginia! Sorry, WV people, love your State for its natural beauty, but never did get used to Single-Wide Trailers, trash piled to the roof, starving dogs on 1 foot chains and the last five generations of junk cars in the backyard!
So now I understand the Redneck joke by my favorite Jeff Foxworthy:
"If you cat your grass and find a car, you might be a Redneck!"
PA has it and so does every other State I have ever been in, but BOY I must have gotten off the wrong exit somewhere! Beautiful as the country side could have been, I saw trailers over trailers over trailers... and almost all of them with trashed yards! Yes, there is a bit bad experience involved in my memories of it; I spend a few miserable months living in one of those 'tin cans' some consider housing! But I don't know how many times I wanted to take a trash can and a lawn mower and clean somebody's yard!
You have to understand German pride!
Germans get halfway decent paychecks, compared to the prices they have to live with. But a 'Haus' is something not everybody can afford to own. So we rent or buy a small parcel of land and create our own Garden Eden. They vary from a few hundred square feet to an acre or two and usually have at least a small shed or maybe even a small 'Haus' on it.
Every Friday after work the entire family packs up and moves into 'paradise'. There they take the lawnmower and cut a possibly tiny patch of grass, water the flowers, plant some tomatoes, trim the already perfect bushes and trees, sweep the sidewalk, enjoy life!
Germans are meticulous and perfectionists by nature. At least those I met in my life. What you own is usually perfectly cared for and looking at it you can feel the love and pride that goes in it. Especially since owning this tiny spot of heaven was or is probably expensive and its ownership acquired with hard work.
I have often been critized for being such a stickler when it comes to my work; I will not put my name under something unless it is the best I can come up with! And while my small farm sometimes can feel like more than I can handle, I will die trying to make it perfect and beautiful!
On the other hand I, being a German (at least to a point), I enjoy having a project that may not be completed by the time I paid it off in 29 or so years! I have never met a 'normal' German that didn't come up with something to fix or create when the 'project' seemed already perfect. Idle hands never rest, I guess.
What is a Schrebergarten?
I wanted to know what a Schrebergarten actually is and looked around on the web a little.
Dr. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (the German habit of adding half a docent names to one's poor baby's burden to carry!) was a German Doctor and University Teacher at the Leipzig University. He was born in 1808 and died in 1861.
He became the director of the Sanatorium (Heilanstalt( in Leipzig in 1844 and started to publish articles about the health of children and the social consequences urbanization caused at the "dawn of the Industrial Revolution" ("Moritz Schreber", Wikipedia.org).
Dr. Schreber started what would become the "Schrebergarten Movement". His initiative helped to develop the first 'Schrebergaerten' in Leipzig around the mid-1800s ("The Schrebergarten Page"). It gave city workers, living in often cramped conditions, the opportunity to enjoy the healing powers of nature and a place to relax.
"While small allotment gardens flourish throughout Europe, the German variety is unique in its very German-ness. Orderly to the point of obsessiveness, the communities are goverened by long lists or rules.
While each collective has its own set of rules, the regulations include everything from the size of the cottage, satellite dishes, what types of plants may and may not be cultivated, and how often the paths in front of the gardens must be raked or own" ("The Schrebergarten Page").
Rules? Oh yes! Another German habit seems to be the tendency to have rules for everything; one reason I left for 'freedom'! Those knowing me well will tell you that I have at least three bad habits: No patience, an outspokenness that will make diplomacy almost impossible at times (I call it German Honesty!), and a certain love/hate relationship with rules! ...Thus the name "Cat"! BUT, I am actually as much of a stickler when it comes to how I want my garden to look like!
Schrebergaerten are a beautiful sight! And while they are found in many places around Europe, they are as German as German can be! Let's say... We perfectionated Schrebergaerten!
I have seen pictures and TV shows about some cities such as New York that had a few small gardens in between three story houses, stores and shops. For some people it may look weird and the idea a bit ...off. But if you ever had the chance to escape 'Groundhawk Day' week of getting up, eating breakfast, going to work, working the same sh... every day, going to lunch, working the same sh... every day, driving home, eating dinner, watching TV, going to sleep, getting up.... and go to the country for a afternoon or weekend of relaxation, with no other noise than the birds and the bees, you understand!
Ready for a Garden Eden?
A Schrebergarten is not for everyone! It takes a lot of sweat, time, hard work and even more of your precious and rare free time to get one started and, at least temporarily, completed!
You have to have your heart in it to get it from a parcel of bare land to the miniature park area you are trying to create. But in the end it is so worth the effort!
I honestly miss it a little! I think a lot of city children would benefit from these tiny kingdoms. And their parents for sure could use a break and a bit of peace and freedom.
But too many of us have lost the ability to drop work and 'Groundhawk Day' and find pleasure in such a 'small thing'. Our lives are dictated by work-, school-, football schedules and we somehow end up missing days, weeks, months, years of our lives; not knowing where all that time went!
We also lost the pride in what we call our homes! I see Single Wide Trailers, falling apart and with trashed yards, that have expensive satellite dishes and cars in front of them! Home is where you sleep for a few hours; before you go back to work!
If we can recover our pride again, making our 'homes' what they are meant to be, maybe we can recover the pride in so many other things again! Maybe we can remember the importance of 'Home' and 'Family'!?
When is the last time you had a meal with your family, sitting at a table together? I would have to think hard about that! I go to work, clean my house, go to college, spend weekends working on house and yard!
I miss the evenings with my family, eating together and playing games together!
From the German version of Times Magazine - Schrebergarten
- Rent-a-Plot: Germany\'s Garden Ghettos - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
Germans are wild about gardening. So wild, in fact, that they rent out little plots on the edge of cities so they can dig around in the dirt on weekends. Welcome to the small world of the Schrebergarten .
What is a Schrebergarten?
What's a Schrebergarten? Also called Kleingarten or a variety of other names, the name Schrebergarten comes from Dr. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber, who advocated the development of garden parcels for workers living in cramped city conditions.
- Kleingarten – Wikipedia
Der Kleingarten, auch Schrebergarten, Heimgarten, Familiengarten (bes. in der Schweiz), Bünt/Pünt/Beunde (südd., schweiz.), oder Parzelle, bezeichnet ein eingezäuntes Stück Land als Garten, ...
- Allotment (gardening) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An allotment garden, often called simply an allotment, is a plot of land made available for individual, non-professional gardening. Such plots are formed by subdividing a piece of land into a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are...
Moritz Schreber (Deutsch)
- Moritz Schreber – Wikipedia
Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (* 15. Oktober 1808 in Leipzig; † 10. November 1861 in Leipzig) war ein deutscher Arzt und Hochschullehrer an der Universität Leipzig.
Moritz Schreber (English)
- Moritz Schreber - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (October 15, 1808 - November 10, 1861) was a German physician and university teacher at University of Leipzig.
Schrebergarten, a Panoramic Tour
360° panoramic photography by Willy Kaemena. Visit us to see more amazing panoramas from Bremen and thousands of other places in the world.
Pictures of Schrebergaerten (Yahoo Search)
- Image Search Results for schrebergarten
A simple Yahoo search for pictures of Schrebergaerten!