Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Autumn, and Berlin's Leaves Fall

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel


Dear You, 
here you see my problem. Better: you don't see it - because I couldn't find it.
I was looking for a special photo I took: beautiful yellow leaves on a shining turquoise engine cover - it looks really lovely and I can recall it before my inner eye - but I forgot: when did I take that photo - in 2013? 2012? Couldn't have been in 2011 when we moved to Berlin..?
Yours truly has written a book about order. I love order. I love systems to get the chaos into a sort of order - but though I have entitled my photo-files, these titles are not always totally enlightening - I mean: one title for my 10 days stay in England this year - with over 1000 photos - and what might hide under "miscellaneous/ October 2012"?
So above you get substitutes - not bad, but not what I wanted as an illustration for "Autumn".
Though I should better use the word "Fall". Because the leaves fall.
In the Berliner Zeitung I read that in Berlin each year the trees throw down 70.000 tons of foliage.
Can you imagine that?
Seventy-thousand tons! 
(And they are not counting the leaves of the forests as the Grunewald).
Berlin has about 438.000 trees lining the streets. In summer one often thinks one is walking through an aquarium - a deep shadowy green wavers up to the third floor of the houses, no need for sun protection at the groundfloor - better buy a torch - and with mixed feelings I look from my balcony on the second floor at the oaks in front of our house: they grow, contrary to folks belief, rapidly, and in autumn you hear their funny plop, plop when they throw their acorns on the cars. The car owners don't laugh, but the squirrels and the jays do.
And each of these 438.000 trees has about 50.000 leaves.
The main trees are limetrees/linden trees, followed by plane trees, oaks and chestnuts (in Berlin, the newspaper says, each year they get almost 5.800 tons of acorns and chestnuts for feeding deers etc), maple/acer, robinias/ locust and birchtrees. If you add on the trees from our parks and city-gardens, Berlin has about one million trees.
A very, very green city.
You think I ramble? From the photos to the trees?
Oh no - I follow abundance.
Both - photos and leaves - have cumulated.
One has to get rid of some (the chestnut leaves that are infected by the leafmining moth; the photos which are blah or not pretty).
60.000 tons of the leaves are changed into 40.000 tons of compost (the remaining 10.000 tons of leaves they experiment to change into briquetts form).
Might be a good ratio for my photos?


16 comments:

  1. Every year I must report how many tons of trash our township disposed of, how many tons were recycled, how many cubic yards of leaves our road department picked up and turned in for composting. I am so grateful most residents just blow the leaves into the woods.

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    1. Dear Joanne,
      this doesn't sound to me as funny as rustling through a heap of leaves :-) But I was very surprised when I read that - if one has built a plant for pressing those foliage-briquets (a 800 KW-plant costs you to 3 million Euro, writes the Berliner Zeitung) - it pays itself off after 3 to 5 years. In Germany 2500 plants exist - their owners are quick calculators!

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  2. Britta: I sure do know about those mysterious "miscellaneous" folders. I keep telling myself to stop making such folders, but they keep creeping up. As for the falling leaves, and all, you know, I had never thought of this in terms of statistics, and the statistics are remarkable! I wonder now how many tons of leaves fall in our yard (we have a lot of trees)--and, mindful of Joanne's comment, above, we do blow our leaves into the woods. Glad to know it's helpful! As for the acorns, you may remember my first blog title, "Raining Acorns." "Hailing" would have been more appropriate. We now have a back porch, right under a big old oak, and did it ever hail acorns this year! Happy autumn!

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    1. Dear Sue,
      yes, these folders creep up, munching all the New Year's resolutions up on their way into our computers... I mean: how tiny can a category of a filing-system be to remain useful?
      Your yard sounds impressive - in our flat in Hamburg-Hochkamp we had one very old, very huge beech - and I was the person to fill all those bags with leaves...raking them up from our sloped garden. In the cities for private garden-owners it is not allowed to put the foliage into the curb (and you will know by vast experience how long it takes for a leaf to rot - so letting it compost on the lawn is no good idea :-)
      I remember "Raining Acorns" - loved it so much!

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  3. I sometimes say I must have been a tree nymph in a previous life. I see such beauty in trees all year round. I have two huge maple trees in my front yard and they shed enough leaves in the fall for at least twice as many.

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    1. Dear Emma,
      I am with you: trees are so lovely, reassuring or elegant, they are beautiful and useful. Your two maple trees must be a sight, especially in autumn! (I have two tiny Japanese maples on my balcony their leaves are a sight!)

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  4. Wonderful post, Brigitta. It's seasons like this that show us our garden, our world, grows around the sun. This is a magical time and your photographs attest.

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    1. Dear Geo.,
      thank you! All seasons are beautiful, but autumn is so fiery, so abundant and generous. Colours, smell, sounds - and (especially this autumn - we had 18°C yesterday on 1.st November!) mellow sunrays, beautiful light. It is a season that opens up the hearts.

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  5. Wow, that's a LOT of trees! Atlanta has a reputation for having a lot of trees, too, and our neighborhood is no exception. I haven't starting raking yet this year, but I need to get at it soon. We have a lot of acorns, which the squirrels love, but we also have a ton of gumballs from our sweet gum trees. I don't think anyone or anything loves them.They're nature's spiky little weapons.

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    1. Dear Susan,
      before we came to Berlin I hadn't imagined how green (and quiet!) this city is. Gladly they have bin men, who do not only collect the garbage bins, but also rake the leaves (in the street - as a private gardener you have to do it on your own, of course - I feel with you when you start raking -- still feel the blisters on my hand from the huge beech in Hamburg). I admired very old gum trees in London - they smell so wonderful! On Wikipedia I had to scroll very far down to see their spiky fruits - here the plane trees use their fruits as missiles - don't think they are useful either.

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  6. It's good to meet you, Brigitta, and I see that through Tom I have discovered a woman of impeccable taste. Yes, Lucia is most amusing, a creature complete in herself. She would have blogged magnificently.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your charming posts!

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    1. Dear Mise,
      I am glad that you came here - and chuckle at your first sentence which will delight Tom, who is a knight in shining armour .

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  7. I used to live in New Hampshire, where the trees were everywhere. Now, in Florida, I do miss them. I also remember being in Berlin for the Y2K celebration and walking through lines of trees heading toward the Brandenburg Gate. It was fabulous. Nice post!

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  8. Dear JJ,
    thank you. Trees are giving atmosphere and - not to be scoffed at - they clear the air. And do something for the soul and eye.
    So you have enjoyed your Y2K party, and must know Berlin quite well. I love to live here.

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  9. Oh my gosh! Those are a lot of leaves. What's even more daunting was I almost got lost form all those math. Hahaha! Kidding aside, those many leaves must really be a burden to the rakers and the garbage disposal system of the city, as well as your picture archives. I hope you get that settled. Anyway, Autumn is really my favorite season and I do hope you are enjoying it too. Thanks for sharing that!

    Gwendolyn Reyes @ Tapestry

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    1. Dear Gwendolyne,
      yes, so many leaves to be raked up - gladly not by me. But some clever souls even can make money out of it, that seems to be the bright side. :-)

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