Just cycling back from Longerich and miss my turning down Buschweg, through the forest. I pass a small conspicuous, red and white barrier and come face to face with a large wired fence on the cycle path with a perfectly functional cycle path behind it. Curious and it would seem, pointless. I signal to the Baggerfahrer who is busy shifting felled tree stumps with a huge bucket scooper claw thing into the bareness of the culled forest.
Can I cycle through? No. He points to the road behind me. The Militärring affectionately called the Mili in these parts.
What? He must be joking. Cars are tearing down at 70kmh. Not to be messed with. What to do?
I could turn round and see if there is another way (to Grandma’s house). Perhaps through the forest. But I am a little disoriented …
I can see the tram stop from here. It is a mere 300m. I wait. And as luck would have it (combined with savvy German road planning, having featured several sets of safety-forward – if otherwise irritating and speed-inhibiting – traffic lights on the Mili) the road is clear in both directions. Not a car in sight. I mount my wheels and peddle as fast as my legs and semi-flats allow and make it the safety of the pedestrian crossing.
Nerves a little frayed. Hair a little frazzled. I make it. And I’m still alive. Yeah.
I pass the bus stop where the 127 pulls in from Ebertplatz. In front of me is a cyclist’s nightmare (neither a dawdling pigeon nor a pile of dog poopidoop on this occasion). The floor is carpeted in miniature cubes of mint coloured safety glass, like Elsa had a major row with Anna after a few sneaky teenage-the-pressure-of-ruling-the-kingdom-is-getting-to-me Grogs and instead of firing Nordic ice from her delicate regal fingers…Glass.
A man from the KVB is evaluating the damage.
What’s going on? Und vor allem Why? How is he supposed to know? Also a gute question.
So he’s calling in the City’s Reinigungsdienst to clean the area before he takes next steps. Stick to protocol. Efficiently German. And swiftly managed.
I cycled on the Mili. Not sure that is entirely legal. All this glass. What would CSI say to the criminal mastermind behind the vandalism of public property? Despite our inherent connection on this otherwise normal day I still find myself asking: What is the point of smashing in a bus stop?
So here we are walking home and enjoying a Kugel of Zitoneneis in a Waffel not a Becher from Eis Café Campo. The sun is shining and it is truly an inspiring spring afternoon. Dog walkers scolding dogs for doing what dogs do in springtime (not messing on the pavement – that’s apparently ok in these parts). The odd couple of youths hanging out, dribbling around shards of broken glass on the basketball court in the kleinen Wald on the way into the Zentrum. Children’s laughter like birdsong in the air. We’re wearing t-shirts for goodness sake, what could be better than that? Like I say, an inspiring afternoon.
Inspiring it would seem for…arson!
Low and behold there is smoke billowing on the breeze and not a single sausage in sight. Not even the faintest whiff of a Würstchen detectable. No plastic in there either, well nothing apparently toxic (if you’ve ever inadvertently melted plastic spoons in a saucepan because the sterilisation unit was kaput then you’ll now the toxic stench I’m referring to). It’s blowing down across the village over to the garden centre. As if that wasn’t drama enough there are flames wilding away in the forest and a group of surprisingly amiable folk observing from a safe distance on the path. What’s going on? Has anyone reported the incident?
Yes! Someone called 112.
The fire brigade is on its way. We have long since finished ice cream and waiting with baited breath for the shrill of sirens screaming from the Mili across the Dorf.
And there it is. A green and white police van pulls up in the village. And a young man sprints from the scene to greet the two uniformed officers and leads them to the action. One of them radios (but not for back-up – this is not Tatort) and they gently trot past the barrier and control the amassing crowd of what must be, let’s say around 12 people, back over the dog poop onto the lush green Wiese.
Out comes Frau Müller and inspects the drama from her porch.
Then silence as majestic and luminous, shiny red, water-extinguishing beasts glide – one, two, three, four and a fifth! direkt an the children’s noses vorbei. Mara is with us today. A spontaneous playdate like no other. Drawing pictures and playing in the garden? Not today. Is her Mum going to be thrilled at the prospect of her hanging round the local streets watching the drama instead of painting her nails? Not likely. Because you don’t get drama of this calibre in Pesch. Keine Nagellackieren today Mara. Today there is a forest fire that must be dealt with at the end of our street and the Feuerwehr im Einsatz. Action a go-go.
The long neon hose is drawn out and connected to a Wasserhydrant. Feuerwehrmann Sam extending the hose along the road at super-speed. We watch it inflate like a feeding python and then as water gushes through the tops of the trees and rains down on that ring of fire stretching over metres through the forest. No drug rings and helicopters this time – dafür a ring of fire and five engines from the brigade!
Phew. Excitement over for one day. And I wonder whether these guys happen to do kids’ birthday parties…