So, what do you think of Green Week?

Veterans of International Grune Woche in Berlin have asked me, a rookie, what I thought of the show.

Well, as a writer, I try to avoid comments like, “words can’t describe,” since that’s kind of my job. But still, I think the exposition comes pretty close to being one of those “you just have to be there” situations.

The show began as a local market in 1926 and evolved into the agriculture meeting. Over 50 agriculture-related groups, including the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists, meet during the event. The displays cover 28 acres!

I think I needed a 17 hour trip home to Canada to give thought to describing the experience of Green Week. Every step I took while on the Messe Berlin site seemed to evoke another feeling about the experience of Green Week.

It was definitely a sensory riot. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd pushes, even though the mass of people is so thick there is no place to go except to move along with them. Sweat snakes down my spine because of the heat generated by throngs of people, or, when I’m dashing from one building to the next, I caught my breath from the chill of the cold German air and watched my footing for icy patches on the roadway.

As the crowd shuffles along, I yell to be heard over the loud music being played at most booths. In the French hall, the wartime songs of Vera Lynn drifted around us as we sipped espresso. When the Swiss booth hosted us for an evening meal, musicians playing traditional music and wearing costumes performed for us. When we attended a lunch hosted by the German Farm Writers Guild, we had an upper level, bird’s eye view of the stage and watched a horn band play and a choir sing. Then, as we continued through the halls, I found it hard not to belly dance past the Middle Eastern countries’ booths, do a jig through Ireland or even polka past the Poland people.

And the smells… they changed with each new breath. Fresh, sweet hay near the farm animals created the unmistakable farm smell and rubber tires of the farm equipment reminded me of Saturday mornings errands as a child with my father. The mild Gouda, sharp Emmental and pungent blue cheeses from Switzerland and France could be absorbed with each turn of the head. The aroma of Belgium’s decadent chocolates danced by me, and more than once, I had to stop despite the crowd, breathe deep and try to place the bouquet that met me in that space — liquorice, paprika, the wonderful, rich and spicy goodness from the Vietnamese, Lebanese, Moroccan foods.

I flew over the Atlantic Ocean today to journey home. I think my senses needed the blandness of an airplane to recover, regroup and begin to describe what Grune Woche is like in Berlin.

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