Through the leaves, I spotted my prey.
It was almost as tall as me, but facing away, towards the sun. Now if I just turned sideways … and stepped lightly … and then could … reach … a little further ….
Snip! I got it! Surely the best, biggest, yellowest sunflower in the field.
“Self-serve flowers” is my very rough translation for blumen selbst schneiden, and flowers in Germany have got to be one of the highlights of summertime here.
Like their neighbors the French, Germans get flower-crazy during the few months of the year when flowers can actually grow. Every window has a flower box; every streetlight has a hanging basket; and somewhere along the line someone got wise to the fact that unused farmland could quite easily be converted to cash with just a few seeds.
Aside from the aesthetic value (a landscape dotted with patches of technicolor) and the energy lift (it’s pretty hard not to smile at a field of sunflowers), I love the principle of self-serve flowers: first, that people are willing to take the time to gather flowers for their homes, and second, that it’s all done on the honor system (see below).
The field closest to my house fronts the main highway, meaning it’s easy to quickly pull over everytime you’re heading home. (A little too easy, judging by all the flowers in my house.) But hey, I’ll gladly plunk down spare euro-coins in exchange for huge, gorgeous blooms that last for weeks.
Besides, this isn’t just any regular commercial transaction … it’s as if I’m contributing to a local beautification project, a farmer assistance program, and my own improved feng shui, all in one.