From the moment the president of the United States, visiting California in the wake of its devastating wildfires, said that the good old Finns rake the dead leaves from their forest floors in order to prepare for such calamities, I can’t help but think about the Finns and about dead leaves. The Finns, obviously, do not rake their woods; there was a misunderstanding, as there often is, and the international satire-machine took off.
But if it is true that there are indeed corners of the planet where people rake in earnest, you only have to know where to look.
If the president had come with us to Baden-Württemberg last weekend, he would likely have been pretty satisfied. For a number of reasons it’s probably better that he not come to Berlin, but out in Brandenburg with a bit of luck he might find some nostalgic Stasi-lover ready to denounce where the dead leaves lie and some extreme right-wingers would no doubt be ready to jump in and help rake.
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that some Germans have the tendency to rake their leaves with excessive seriousness, all honor and respect is due this language that has a specific word for the concept of a dead leaf: der Laubfall. Speaking precisely is an expression of clarity of thought and German’s sylvan vocabulary is very encouraging indeed.
( Translated by Alexander Booth )