Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Awakening

As the days get longer and the birds get louder, Germany is once again becoming pleasurable. I am sure there are foreigners here who do not mind the long, hard winters here, but I absolutely do. Well, at least the 5 months of winter we still have left after Christmas. But, there is a light (and a lot of chirping) at the end of the tunnel and it's getting me all excited for German summer (which is by far the best time of year here).

Since moving here, I have felt like an anthropologist studying an exotic culture. Unlike in California, where the bright (and often quite warm) winter sunshine leaves people outside 12 months a year, Germans, like bears, go into hibernation in the winter months. The warm, cozy homes with a TV, an oven and some well-working radiators, become their dens and the people hunker down their as the snow blows around them and the temperatures anyone who does venture outdoors into an ice sculpture. Only the brave (i.e. the young who drink so much Jägermeister that they can't feel their arms freeze off anyway) take this risk. The rest of us wrap ourselves up in our warm blankets in our warm homes, and like bears, rest the winter away.

But, then comes the first warm-ish day of late winter. With the temperatures above freezing and the sun a shining, the German people (and I mean every last one) venture out of their dens and into the world. And the next 4 months are one big party. (Yes, 4 months. That is all spring/summer/reasonably nice weather you get here...if you are lucky.)

I don't think the German people sleep during this time. I know they don't sleep much, anyway. And I think they spend their entire year's worth of income on going out, sitting in the beer garden, and most excitingly, on all the parties. Here in our little town, we have the Samba Festival, Schlossplatzfest, a summer concert series, overnight flea markets and, as summer wanes, a museum night. There are people biking everywhere (it is very dangerous to be a driver), the beer gardens are always crowded (as are the ice cream stands), and when the sun finally sets at 10 pm on a July evening, there are people packing the bars and clubs. Life is completely different; Germany is full of life.

These months here are my favorite and they usually make up for the dullness of the long (and freakishly cold) winter months. They're also the best time to visit Germany. If you ever want to come visit me (and how could you not want to after that colorful and exciting description of summer in Germany) you should definitely come between June and August (our 3 months of acceptable weather). We well rested and newly woken German bears promise to show you a good time.

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