Well, it’s been almost two months since the kids and I have been here. Hard to believe…in some aspects it feels like it’s been much, much longer than that and in others, it feels like just yesterday Lucy was born and we were in the chaos of trying to put together our move.
While the kids and I were staying with my parents, that month while Chad was here flew by in a blur. It was such a blessing to be able to spend such quality time with our loved ones before we left, yet I also remember just feeling more than anxious to get here and be together as a family again, and in a sense, start a new life. Chad and I tried to catch each other on the phone each day…which was new for us, as we’re not a couple that talks on the phone much at all. I’d anxiously await his call and it seemed like each time I’d talk to him, he’d fallen more and more in love with this place and had all sorts of new and interesting things to tell me about it here. I can see how it had captured his heart so fast. Only two months in, and I have fallen in love with it too. The longer we’re here, the more we discover about life here and, in some aspects, how different it is than the U.S.
Germany is roughly the size of Montana and has a population of approximately 81 million people. Chad has seen evidence of this in the crazy traffic he encounters on the autobahn making a 6 mile drive in an hour and a half on his way home from Patch Barracks. Compared to Colorado, it does seem so much more…dense. And yet, there are so many beautiful trees, vineyard-scattered hills, farm plots, and quaint villages to make it every bit as picturesque as you could imagine. The Germans take the environment extremely seriously… recycling is mandatory and quite a rigid process. Everything is so clean! It’s expected that you keep your walk and drive swept clear of any leaves or snow on a daily basis. (We already have failed in this category…the trees are merciless in shedding their leaves all over our pathway to the front door). The general expectation is that you are to have shoveled by 7 or 7:30 a.m. Also, car emission standards are extremely strict and they have signs posted showing which cars, identified by different colored emissions stickers, are allowed to enter that town/area. Some areas don’t permit motorized vehicles at all if there’s a “no smog” sign. It’s also quite noticeable that many people hang their laundry out to dry. My guess is the outrageous cost of electricity may have something to do with this. That, and it takes roughly two hours to dry one small load with a European dryer.
The German culture is very serious about rest. Virtually all stores, including the mall and grocery stores, are closed on Sunday, as well as most major observed holidays. There is to be no yard work, no laundry hung, or cars washed on these days. There is also what is called ruhezeit, which means “rest period” every day, also known as “quiet hours”, which are observed from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Even the parks are unofficially closed, and everything becomes eerily quiet. Luckily it coincides closely with nap time. :)
In some ways it’s a faster pace of life…there are so many more people, more traffic, etc… but it’s neat because the culture here allows for a more laidback way of life, which is something we’re easily getting used to.