Xtra sunset

Xtra sunset

The sun was just beginning to set as I left the village along the feldweg around the valley, the shadows were lengthening, and despite some rain earlier the roads were dry. Every ridge of earth on the freshly harvested fields was thrown into sharp relief and the trees and few small buildings glowed red in the sunlight. All of which was missed by the cars speeding along the road a kilometre away.

I was taking a shoebox to the next town. Inside were lots of gifts for a six year old girl that I’ve never met and probably never will: she lives in Eastern Europe, and will be one of hundreds of children who will get at least one Christmas present this year thanks to an organisation called ‘Weihnachten im Schuhkarton’. I know there are lots of organisations like this, but what I like about this one is that they make sure that the gifts sent aren’t patronising (no used or broken toys, for example) suitable for the age and gender of the child receiving it, and don’t include things like toy guns or other unpleasantness. It’s a feature of German culture I find very attractive -people receiving gifts aren’t supposed to be grateful for any old hand-me-downs- but I’m digressing.

The cycleway to the next town is one of those that manages to be more direct than the road. After a detour around a valley, it’s almost dead straight, so it should only take a few minutes, but as usual I found myself slowing to look over may shoulder to see the sun setting behind the trees, and the mist forming on the fields, or the tractors ploughing in last years’ crop, and promising myself this would be the last picture before I really concentrated on getting there on time.

Cars not welcome

Cars not welcome

The collection point was in the new part of the town, which I’ve roundly criticised before for having pretty awful cycling facilities, if any at all, so I was really surprised to find that over the other side of the town development is really bike-friendly: cars are kept well out of the way in covered parking areas, and houses are along narrow lanes. This isn’t an unusual arrangement: it comes from the Netherlands and I’m sure David Hembrow will be able to remind me of the name, but in our village it’s less effective because it is laid out like a traditional street, so many houses have car access. In this development, car ownership has been made less convenient, and shops and other amenities are easily accessible by bike, so you have a higher subjective safety, especially where people live, and the result was striking: no pollution, or noise. Instead there were children playing in the street, and bikes and bike trailers of various sizes by every house.

Which means these people get to see the sun setting over trees, and the mist hanging over the fields on an Autumn evening on the way to the shops, which I’d suggest will result in happier people. Which I’d have thought means more productive, healthier, more generous people. It really isn’t rocket science.

It took ages to get back too. In conditions like this, even I can’t mess up pictures…

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