Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A German Hausfrau Unter den Linden

Britta Huegel


Dear You,
these days, when I leave our house I'm instantly wrapped in the sweetest honey-est scent of flowering limetrees. Berlin has thousands upon thousands of them, it is the greenest city of Germany. So the air is filled with a very special and seductive delectation.
You  -  just - melt - away. Dizzy. Almost drunk. 
(Some poor bumblebees even die - they lie on the pavement, having looked too deep into the Mass full of nectar - plastered first, then on the Stairway to Heaven. Too late to become a teetotaller!)
Two years ago I published a poem on my blog "Britta's Happiness of the Day", written by Walther von der Vogelweide, our poet from the High Middle Ages (that most Germans would not understand anymore). "Under der linden" is so beautiful, and maybe I will do a translation of my own in the next days, because I am not utterly happy with the one I quote there.
You might know Berlin's famous boulevard "Unter den Linden" - though at the moment you would see more construction areas than limes (they build the new underground 55 - a silly project, only 1,8km long. I don't believe that chancellor Merkel or any MP will use that underground from Hauptbahnhof to the Brandenburger Tor -- and no back-bencher will do that either: they all are chauffeured around in their huge limousines while preaching ecology of environment to us, their beloved voters. It is not social envy that makes me angry - as you all know I love beautiful and racy cars - it is the hypocrisy to speak of ecology and then sit in an official car as that of our mayor's, a 435 PS strong gasoline-engined car, which needs 9,2 liter on 100 kilometers on average - with 216 gram Co2-emission per kilometer.
For the U55 they chopped a lot of old limetrees, which will be replaced in time. They promised. So we can feel reassured.
Yesterday I had to do a lot of car-cleaning: Knut, my little red Fiat 500, had been parked for 2 weeks under a lime tree - first the weather was too hot to use a car, then I was in Munich. And now: horror!
You see: the leaves of the limetrees look like being lacquered, and when you walk under them, you think: What? Is it raining in a fine spray?
It isn't. There are zillions of aphids... sprinkling everything underneath with a sugary sticky film - I couldn't look Knut into his eyes! So I put on my Marigolds and took a bottle of Windolene and freed the sight, his and mine.
I have a dashy photo where I stand on a high ladder - in Marigolds, with an apron and a feather duster (oh, I almost forgot the little black dress, smiley, smiley!) - the incarnation of what men think a Hausfrau should look like. It was actually made for (the German issue of) Men's Health, for which I sometimes answer household questions.
Thought I show you the beautiful limetree photo instead.



18 comments:

  1. Dear Britta - as soon as you mentioned lime trees, I thought oh no! yes, the awful sticky sap. I once left my car under a lime tree at my friends, but never again - once bitten twice shy as they say. Good luck in your marigolds, I look forward to seeing the photo of you up a ladder, and I am sure that lots and lots of other people will too.

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  2. Dear Rosemary,
    the thing is: we have - almost - no alternative in many quarters. E.g. most streets in our Bavarian Quarter are seamed on both sides with trees: mostly limes, a lot of plane trees, and oaks (they are difficult too: in summer they might host oak eggers - very unpleasant - in autumn they enjoy throwing their acorns on the cars). In summer people who live in the downstair flats must feel as in an aquarium - deeply green light... nice air, nice view, but ...

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  3. Old Men's Health would be a good one - pictures of octogenarians lifting their T-shirst to expose wrinkled flab on the covers.

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    1. Dear Tom,
      though you might have discovered a market niche, there would always the dangers of models falling from the ladder!

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  4. I wish I could smell the perfume of the trees. I am unable to pass a blossom without 'going in for' a a big sniff!

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    1. Dear Pondside,
      it is very, very sweet - in the way that the German word 'lind' is (I don't know wether there is a connection): lind means balmy, gently, soft.
      I think we have a lot in common, you and I: I also can't pass flowers without sniffing them deeply.

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  5. I delight in the foliage photo. The only pictures i have of Unter Den Linden are in some antique stereoviews (which I collect) of the Mitte district. But they are of course in black and white.

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    1. Dear Geo.,
      'stereoviews' sound very interesting - are these slides one see in more than one dimension? I have an acquaitance who collects three-dimensional pictures, old ones.
      Berlin-Mitte looks very different now - have you ever visited it?

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  6. Can you pick limes? A fortune to be saved there.

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    1. Dear Joanne,
      I did pick the blossoms of lime trees once - to make tea of them in winter, good against a heavy cold. But I suspect that you speak of the lime tree with bartender's lime, citrus aurantifolia, while I speak of the lime trees that in America often are called linden, I think.

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  7. Unter den Linden is such a storied boulevard--though I do wonder at the translation, as linden trees don't bear limes, do they? It's wonderful to breathe in the beautiful scents that waft in the air this time of year. Here, we have a lot of wild honeysuckle, for one--though, akin to your resulting car problem, wild honeysuckle can run rampant, so best in wild places away from gardens!

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    1. Dear Susan,
      thank you for making me aware of the question of the botanical name! As gardeners we would noncholant talk of Tilia platyphyllus and know what we were talking abiut - in Britain non-gardeners talk e.g. of large-leaved limes,, in America of large leaved lindens. Confusing that bartender's lime is called (sweet) lime too! Think of Raymond Chandlers Rose's lime juice...
      I love honeysuckle - had it in my garden, and started on the balcony - than it got too rampant and was banned to the Hinterhof.

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  8. With all trees, (and most every other thing in life) I guess we have to accept the bad with the good. The scent of those blossoms and the cool shade afforded by those branches are blessings, but the sticky sap, and all those leaves to rake in the fall, not so much.

    HA! Sounds like you're somewhat dubious about those trees being replanted. I suppose your politicians are just as honest and reliable as ours.

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    1. Dear Susan,
      you hit the point: Yin and Yang. (I especially think about that at the moment. Makes life so much easier to accept). And yes: I raked 15 big, big sacks of leaves from one old copper beech in Hamburg - I know what you are speaking of.
      Politicians: yeah. Same old story everywhere - they are (very) human. The linden they will have to replace, I think - how could they explain the name of that old boulevard otherwise? But it will take a long time till they get venerable. (I'm still speaking of the linden :-)

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  9. Britta...I had to google to your lime tree. Lime trees here in the US are citrus bearing and not usually planted street side. The photo is lovely, but the sticky goodness might be a bit much to contend with! Was it easy to remove from your little Knut? According to my reading these trees have a very long life and some are very significant - The Lime Tree of Kaditz. Thanks for expanding my world! Hope you have a lovely...non-sticky week! Susan

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    1. Dear Susan,
      thank you! I wrote to Susan Scheidt (above) about the translation problem - British and American English are not the same :-)
      It was difficult to free Knut: husband (thank you!) had to use a high-pressure cleaner 4 times in the car wash, before he could use the 'normal' automatic washing system. And now the car stands again under a linden... will move it, will clean it earlier - but in autumn we have the next problem: the other trees are oaks, dumping their acorns... A garage is not to get in this area.

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    2. Britta...I so admire your writing and often wonder how you manage the translations! American English is difficult enough without translation! I try to remember that when I reply to blogs that I read from different countries, but frequently just go with the Americanization! Oh my, you may have to get a sturdy cover for Knut to keep him safe! Thankful for helpful husbands!

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    3. Dear Susan,
      I just see it before my inner eye: a transparent cover with big black polka dots: Knut would look like a shiny ladybug :-) , being so deep red. Maybe a wonderful business idea (though people will be to idle to do it, and then the cover is sticky...) I prefer Husband's help. (And will learn to drive through a wash plant myself).

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