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Trip Down Memory Lane…

October is a hard month for me. I love the fall season so much because it reminds me of Germany. Finally – a spell of cold – after a long hot summer. The falling leaves of the oak trees in front of my house serve as a reminder of the changing season.
Who would have thought I’d ever miss the rain and cold, the overcast days, and the ever shorter dark days in Germany?

October is a special time in the little communities where I grew up. I was raised in the Rhineland-Palatinate or Rheinland-Pfalz, if you would like to try to pronounce that. It is a famous wine growing region in the West of Germany.

This time of year , as a child, I would be helping with the grape harvest. Even young children would participate. Once you were old enough to hold the clippers for cutting grapes, you’d go out and help. I remember my infant sister being carried in around the vineyard in her bassinet. Every helper would receive a bucket and a pair of clippers You’d be assigned a partner and a row of grape vines to harvest from together. It was hard work. Often we would work in pouring rain. Filling our buckets with grapes, over and over again. Once your bucket was full, you would call out for the “Legelträger,” a person carrying a special bigger bucket strapped to his back, and empty your grapes into the receptacle as he would kneel down in front of you. He then would empty his bucket into a giant green vat. And when that was full, we would all be called on to jump into the vat and mash down the grapes to make space for more grapes.

My husband always jokes about it. He says the only reason I survived was because of my long legs.
It was a pretty sticky business. By the end of the day, you’d be tired and covered in grape juice and have grape leaves stuck in your hair. The smell of the harvest would penetrate deeply into your skin. But the hard labor would be rewarded with a small sum of money – which seemed huge for me as a child.
Now that I am older I fondly remember those days spent outdoors, working and playing in the vineyards.
Some people say that children in the modern world have lost touch with nature. They spend most of their time in front of TV and computer screens. I recently read an article which claimed that the average American child spends between 4-6 hours in front of a screen of one sort or another (Nintendo, other handheld games, Wii) . The article also stated that many children are losing touch with nature because of it.
Why care about the environment if you never spent time outdoors?
I wonder if things have changed in Germany and my memories are just that. Memories. Maybe the modern German child does not participate in the grape harvest. My sisters don’t live that region any more. Maybe machines do all the work now…
I guess what I am trying to say here is: It is important to teach children a connection to nature!” It is so important to play and to work with them outdoors! I am convinced that I would be a very different person if I had not spent so much time surrounded by the soft rolling hills of the German country side where I grew up.
Have a wonderful week! And remember to turn that computer or TV off, and send the kids outside to rake some leaves with you!
Love, Ulla

15 thoughts on “Trip Down Memory Lane…

  1. beautiful article, Ulla! are the pictures from Germany? i totally agree about children being in front of the screen…mine spend almost entire days outdoors, with me calling them in at dinner time to wash up.

  2. Wonderful article Ulla. ^_^ When I was a little girl we grew raspberries and I spend forever picking and eating them. Then we grew strawberries, I was always excited when the harvest would come on and gt to make a little money that summer. That was before you had to be 16 to work. Nothing tastes as good as a fresh picked strawberry. ^_^

  3. thanks! Yes, the pictures are of the region where I grew up. It made me want to cry with homesickness looking at them this morning…

  4. Terrific post Ulla! I have so many great memories of time spent playing outside as a child, and later playing with my own children! An appreciation for the natural world is a wonderful gift we should all try to give our children.

  5. We are off to the park this afternoon, but Ulla, I just wanted to thank you so much for this! I love getting outside in the fall and just hiking. We went on a wonderful nature walk with friends last week, and it was so good to get back into nature, away from the screens! So, I am turning this screen off now and heading outdoors 🙂

  6. Ulla, that is simply a beautiful post! So inspiring, I’d love to go mach grapes up with my feet, it sounds so lovely and such fun for a child. My childhood was spent outdoors on a farm – and my own child now lives in a city and it makes me sad how we have to drive to get to a park and be in “real” nature.

  7. Ulla, I am actually sitting here in tears. I too have wonderful memories of my childhood in Germany. Not grapes, but apple harvest was a big part of my October, it was hard work. Thank you for sharing with us 🙂

  8. Great Article Ulla! I so agree children need that outside time and they also need to work outside. Here in Maine we have them participate in Garden work and harvest time is so much fun!

  9. Yay Ulla! Nice post! My family is so grateful that we do not have a tv! We like to spend time outside playing in the woods or inside playing with open-ended toys that encourage imagination!

  10. Beatiful bost. I too have wonderful memories of being outside, playing. My boys aren’t allowed to watch a lot of t.v. I am introducing them to various crafts they can do. I am lucky they are creative and enjoy this, as well as playing outside.

  11. Wonderful article, Ulla! How lucky you were to have had that experience! I remember picking strawberries with my Mom, then she would make lots and lots of jars of jelly with them. I miss that, too, but I look forward to doing it with my kids someday. Our leaves are just starting to fall, so there will be lots of raking to be done!

  12. Hi birchleaf! Wow, no TV. I remember a girl in my highschool who did not have a TV. People were constantly asking her how she could live without one.
    Well, guess what? That girl had read so many books before graduation she put any teacher and professor to shame!
    She turned out a great artist. Last I heard she is married to an Italian stone mason and is one herself…

  13. Loved reading of your memories!
    I lived in Oestrich-Winkel as a child so it was familiar : )

  14. I really enjoy reading your articles Ulla, thank you for taking the time to share these memories. 🙂

  15. Thanks for all the sweet comments! I am always a bit stressed out the day before Wednesday – sometimes not knowing what to write about. I am glad you enjoy my ramblings. =)

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