In the Nature

Ask any German what they like to do in their free time (and you will have this conversation at some point, because hobbies and free time is a conversation topic oft enjoyed by the Germs) and there is a good chance he or she will answer, ‘I like to be in the nature.’ There are variations on this answer, like ‘I like to enjoy the nature’, which is a lovely hobby when you think about it, or ‘I like to walk/cycle/hike/ride/grill in the nature’, but the central role is unwavering; the nature. Germans love the nature.

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As a result of this love of nature, parks and public gardens abound in German cities, as do, often, small areas of wald (forest). It means those of us not gadding about the countryside on a daily basis have access to big, beautiful green parks, sometimes with a little lake or two and always well maintained. Here, one can partake in the holy trinity of German leisure; strolling, grilling, enjoying the nature. There is also the fourth option of Nordic Walking, if that floats your boat, and it floats many boats in these parts if my eyes are to be believed.

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As an Australian, I also love the nature. And as an Australian, I take it and the type of weather that permits me to be in it whenever I like, entirely for granted. I also grew up with a lot of space around me, I never noticed being in the nature as any different to being at home. Australians are often outside – we have space, we have mild weather, and these two things generally collide to provide a type of lifestyle that sees a great deal of time spent outdoors. Moving to a geographically smaller and far more densely populated country of apartment-dwellers was the first time I heard ‘enjoying the nature’ as an actual thing.

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And thank God it’s a thing. This enjoyment means Germany manages to house 80 million people, but retain a forest area of around 31% of its land area. It means you can live in a city of hundreds of thousands and still slip into vast areas of meadows and trees and green. All of these people, plenty of industry and still, 11.1 million hectares of forest. There is plenty of space to play and read and lie in the sun. There is plenty of green.

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Now I find myself enjoying the nature. An apartment dweller in a mid-sized city, not a few days pass where I don’t seek out these quiet, leafy oases – Botanic Gardens, protected Wälder, the waterfront, big old sweeping parks made for Danish Kings (or for the general population to use) – where it’s just me and the birds. My child may not grow up on acres of land like I did, able to disappear into bush-land with nothing but a pair of gumboots, a slick of sunscreen, and the guidance of an older sister – but, just minutes from our seemingly urban life, she will be able to get lost in these glorious green places, in a country that loves, with all its heart, being in the nature.

14 Replies to “In the Nature”

    1. I am always filled with admiration for how beautifully looked after their public parks and gardens are, and how respectfully they are used. It’s lovely.

  1. yup I’ve heard this expression more than a few times. The fact that Germans put a ‘the’ in front of it, instead of just enjoying nature, perhaps summarises their emphasis that it is a ‘thing’ to be enjoyed. Instead of us aussies who take it for granted.. Liv you’re truly naturalised now 😉

    1. As someone who has been teaching English to Germans for more than a few years now, its always been a source of amusement the way they routinely give ‘nature’ a definite article, but indeed something quite loveable. Its also ironic that even though I moved here from New Zealand (where Germans love to go and see ‘the nature’) I have spent a LOT more time ‘in the nature’ since living here – thanks to the abundant forests and river valleys which surround me here in this gorgeous corner of rural south Germany. I spend my weekends getting lost in dense, enormous woodlands and climbing up and down various hillsides (usually in pursuit of a hard-to-locate beer garden) then trying to stay upright on a bicycle (that comes after consuming the beer).

      1. Yes, as a Kiwi, enjoying the nature would be in your blood! I am sure you hear ‘you come from New Zealand … why did you move to Germany’ all the time. Germans adore New Zealand.

  2. Nordic Walking?! 😉 Love it – not doing it myself – love watching others doing it as I’m cycling or walking….hahaha, mean, just a little bit. But I know why they’re doing it – due to a distinct lack of hills etc, etc – well, at least here in MS….

    A lot of peeps enjoy nature….. not just the Germs! You know that already, though. Nature, nature – hills, sea? 😉

  3. That opening paragraph made me laugh so hard I cried (must be the hormones). We live right next to the edge of the Taunus (“low mountain range” + forest) and I feel really lucky to be able to just wander out of the house and into the trees. It makes for a very pleasant morning wandering around in the nature with the sun out and the little one strapped on my front. Happy days…

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