This weekend brought with it a dear friend from Münster, who not only ensured Kiel put on some lovely Autumn weather (this city has delighted in turning on some lovely days for guests this year), but also convinced me of the brilliance of Germany’s new(ish) cross-country bus system. Extraordinarily well-priced, punctual, clean, free wifi, pre-booked seating … she had me practically booking a ticket to Zurich.
The need to walk die Lüdde to sleep found a happy marriage in my kumpel‘s desire to see as much of Kiel in the 24 hours we had, and so we struck out; a familiar ‘to the water’ route on Saturday, and a maiden stroll to the New Botanic Gardens on Sunday. It was on the latter stroll, that she told me about the concept of ‘umsonst und draußen’ – for free and outside – something German parents are perpetually in search of. Kiel, she told me, is full of such things and she’s right.
Before die Lüdde was born, SG and I would perambulate daily around the neighbourhood and take note of each and every Spielplatz (playground) in the area. Once they had been roughly tallied (at some ridiculous number, because it appears the Germans love playgrounds) we started taking note of how many little forests and parks were in walking distance from our place – an abundant amount considering we live in the heart of the city; two Botanic Gardens, huge protected forests, a beautiful big old park that was landscaped for the Danish King and is now home to meadows and woodland and streams full of possessive ducks and geese. There is so much green space around here.
I grew up on a little bit of acreage and my siblings and I paid no heed to the fences that separated our property from our neighbours’, which meant we free-ranged like pesky chickens over an area of about 20 acres. We were outside almost all of the time doing things that still make my parents shudder when we recall them. I want my daughter to be outside as often as possible, to have as close to what I had as possible. Good thing the Germans ‘love it to be out in the nature’ and so many of their cities are planned accordingly. It means our list of places that are umsonst und draußen are plentiful. It means die Lüdde can range free like a pesky chicken across green parks, go on a … and here is my new word for the week, something I saw in action on the weekend … Schnitzeljagd (scavenger hunt) and grow up as wild and free as can be.
This weekend we went to the New Botanic Gardens – which confusingly have been around since the 1600s, and are not to be confused with my favourite Old Botanic Gardens – for the first time. It was a riot of red and gold, the apple trees full. We added it to our list of umsonst und draußen places for the free-range Lüdde.