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/

 

Feuer und Flamme

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!

I know.

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.

Sirens.

More Sirens.

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…