"chimney - stuck - now what?"

For the issue of WWOOF-Germany's last newsletter of 2017, I've decided to take our German WWOOF members on a trip down memory lane back to their school days, to a cutely clumsy creative-writing technique that's very popular with teachers but which often bored students with its somewhat lame and predictable, uncreative psuedo-creativity.

Let me explain this traditional school task to our non-German readers: a well-meaning teacher gives a class three key words and asks them to write a free-association story using said terms. At German schools, this is known as a Reizwortgeschichte. Back in the day, these key words would be “sports lesson – soccer ball – window pane” and the like.

Little did most of us probably think back then, that we'd be WWOOF members one day, sharing our life experiences on organic farms and beyond via internet newsletters, but here we are…!

So, for old time's sake, let me write a free-association story for you with the somewhat challenging key word combination: “Microsoft – pitchfork – dance choreography” to illustrate this plodding and clumsy but formative school experience:

Many people have heard of Bill Gates – he's one of the richest
people on earth because he set up the software company “Microsoft”.
This company made him so much money that it has split Gates' life
into two halves: in the first half of his life he had fun making
money and in the second half of his life he's having fun spending
that money – on charitable causes and on whatever else takes his
fancy. The dream of any entrepreneur!

So what do a WWOOFer and Bill Gates have in common?A WWOOFer is
more likely to stand knee-deep in a big pile of straw and manure than
in a big pile of money and it's not money that grows on trees but
organic apples. But like Bill Gates, WWOOFers do what they love and
they reap the rewards. The first half of a WWOOFer's life is all
about gaining experience – the second half is all about passing it
on as a WWOOF farm host.

As keen, energetic and naïve young WWOOFers we struggle with
“pitchfork”, straw and manure, trying to balance a dozen
stalks of straw on said pitchfork as we ever so ploddingly heap
seemingly endless piles of manure from A to B. As WWOOF farm hosts,
we're the mellowed, accomplished, stoic farmer supervising the young
whipper-snapper WWOOFers, demonstrating with ease how a hundred
stalks of straw instead of a dozen can defy gravity on a pitchfork. A
wealth of experience – so we're all Bill Gateses.

And what if that wealth of experience isn't enough? What if I need
some cash to boot? I know, I'll turn my hand to music and dance!
That's always been my Plan B, even at the age of 12, as I sat on the
sofa glued to the MTV videos on TV, with their “choreographies”
with burning cars and gushing fire hydrants… while balancing a
half-written free-association story on my knees on the fascinating
subject matter “bicycle – neighbour's cat – phew!”

So, dear reader and fellow WWOOF member, I hope that's given you an insight into the nostalgia of iconic, seminal free-association Reizwortgeschichten that were part of my pre-WWOOF years.

I look forward to receiving your creative-writing attempts or your tales of equally inspiring creative-writing lessons…! ; )

I'll give you three festive key words for the Christmas season if you want to have a go yourselves:

“chimney – stuck – now what?”

Text: Jan-Philipp Gutt
Translation into english: Wibke Wiegand