Putz putz wieder putz…munter

You know sometimes you see old mattresses and sodden sofas and bed springs and broken drawers from an old chest of drawers and a skanky old toilet seat just piled up on the edge of the Wald? And it’s not even AWB Spermüll collection day? That is the Putz Munterers at work.

On those two days a year when all the dedicated preservers of wholesome living get out and collect litter in the Bock. They meet up at 10am on a Saturday morning in Springtime and forage through the forests for rubbish anyone has dumped, pile it together ready for the AWB to get rid of.

And thank the Universe they do!

The schools start on the Friday. Lots of little first and second years, out with bin-bags, learning to respect the environment. In small groups picking up syringes and disused mobile phones from the outskirts of the playground: NEIN! LASS DAS! DA IST NOCH BIER IN DER FLASCHE! You hear one scream across the lush green Wiese. How do you know that little Jona? Oh, because Daddy drinks Bier and that is EXACTLY what he says when your Mum is taking the empties back to TrinkGut…

I see two of the Putz Munter team as I cycle back from the post office on a Saturday morning, ready for my shift down at the Kindergarten Trödelmarkt. Two ladies busily filling Müllsäcke with extendable litter grabbers.

How is it going? Many people helping out this year? Apparently not. No one can be bothered.

I ponder this statement for a moment. Why am I not out surrendering my Saturday morning for the good of the nation -er village? I should be. I reassure my conscience with that perfect excuse: Yes, you are helping at the boot sale for the Kindergarten and have a party to organise and work to do. And I often get fed-up with tidying up after other people…

Moment mal, it’s not like the Putz Munter volunteers don’t have other ways to spend their weekend either…I mean, they have families and friends and shopping to do and still find three hours to de-litter the forest.

Sorry. I can’t help this time, I offer weakly. But am hugely grateful for your Einsatz and dedication. Is there vielleicht another day in the year?

No. Why should we plan another day in the year to tidy up other people’s Müll? The best thing would be if people just used the Mülleimer and stopped dumping their rubbish in the forest. And there it is. Laid bare by the sack-wielding lady in the red coat.

She makes a very valid Punkt.

for more details on the Putz Munter events in the Bock: http://www.awbkoeln.de/private-haushalte/koelle-putzmunter/aktion/titel/bocklemuend-

and: http://buergerverein-bocklemuend.de/termine/



What happens when you get out a bit more?

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?

Ideas anyone?