I was never a village person before. I remember being in Hobart years ago and thinking, ‘I could never live in such a small place’. How things have changed. I don’t think I’m ready to give up city life full time, but I definitely now appreciate the charms and positive aspects of small town/village living.
In Berlin, you walk past people and don’t make eye contact. In Fröhden, you greet everyone with a hello and a smile and sometimes a chat. You know most of the people, or at least they know us. They know we don’t eat meat and had problems with our heating system at the beginning of the year. They comment on my piano playing or our friend’s drumming.
Fröhden is quite social, with dorffests and birthday parties occurring quite regularly. Sometimes we don’t feel like attending, but as it is not Berlin, we are obliged to make appearances. I don’t like small talk in general, but doing it in German and with people that are 30 years older than me can sometimes be quite tiring. However, these parties always end up with a lot of alcohol, and it’s quite normal for everyone to be drinking two glasses simultaneously. (One ‘normal’ drink and one shot.)
We’re really quite lucky. Everyone we’ve met has been extremely welcoming and friendly, eager to get to know us. Our street has Mühlenstrassefest which is a once a year party where everyone living on our street gets together at one house for plenty of food and drinks. It’s a long tradition (24 years this year) and next year we will be hosting it.
We have a kid neighbour who looks after our chickens while we’re away. He often comes over to hang out with us and asks to help out by watering the plants or mowing the lawn. We were invited to his family 13th birthday party, as we are now sort of his second set of parents. They even made us separate vegetarian food.
We live a healthy life in Fröhden. We go to bed early, after dinner and wake up just after the sun rises. We eat healthy home cooked meals from our home grown vegetables and I often make cakes from the fruit we have in our garden. There’s a cafe in the village that makes a better breakfast than anything we’ve had in Berlin. We jog through the forests, fields and surrounding villages, 10km much more enjoyable and interesting than in Tempelhof.
It’s such a lovely feeling, waking up and being able to breathe the fresh air, walking out into your own private sanctuary; your garden, saying good morning to your chickens and watching them run out of their little house.
When it’s hot outside and we don’t have guests, we close the gates to our hof so no-one can see inside, turn our place into ‘FKK Fröhden’ and lie naked and soak up the sun. We are in East Germany, after all.