Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ode to Cold, Rainy, Winter Days in Autumn

As I was riding my bike up-hill, with the unforgiving wind blowing against me, in it-really-is-only-5-degrees-celsius-out-there-but-it-feels-like-zero weather (0°C = 32°F), the cold, hard raindrops hitting my face (and my eyes!), my fingers freezing, my nose running (why do I get a runny nose when I'm cold?), my cheeks--well, I don't know what was happening to my cheeks, but I was feeling pretty cold, and tired after a 1-hour excercise session at the gym and a 3 km bike ride to the gym, and a 3 km bike ride from the gym... As this was all happening, I saw a German family in a park (I'm assuming they were German; I can't imagine who else would be out in a park in that hideous weather. Maybe they were Scandinavians...).Two adults, I'm guessing the parents; two kids, maybe 10 and 5 (I'm totally guessing here. I have no idea what kids those ages look like, and I was quite far from them); and a dog. The dog was frolicking in the grass, he had a park all to himself, and he didn't seem to mind--or notice--the rain. The kids were equally happy, all wrapped up in bunches and bunches of winter clothes. I felt good not being the only clown around Kiel with winter jackets in autumn.

Anyway--the family in the park, yes. I could not help but think, WTF?! Why aren't you all curled up in bed watching a movie, drinking hot cocoa, or hot chocolate, or hot tea, or hot coffee, or an ice-cream (I have a thing for eating ice-cream when it's cold)? Why aren't you in your house, sitting beside the heating, with a couple of blankets on, writing in your blogs (like I'm doing right now).? Why aren't you anywhere where it's warm? WTF, people?!

But then, it hit me. Properly dressed, it really isn't that cold (and this is the moment when Hell freezes over--Natalya said something is not cold...). Really, I mean it! My problem is that I am seldom properly dressed. These people know what their weather is like, and they dress appropriately. Yes, of course the rain is a little problem, but it was only barely drizzling (I tend to over-use hyperbole a little sometimes). And you have (and by "you" I mean "I") to understand that these people live with cold weather 11 1/2 months of the year! 5°C is not bad; 5°C is not bad when the temperature will drop to -15°C in a few weeks...

I arrived in Germany in summer. Let me tell you something (and I hope some Germans are reading me, as well as Angie): The Germans are brilliant people; kind, loving, warm, very skilled in car-manufacturing and bread-baking. But the Germans have absolutely no idea what summer means. Summer does not mean "the weather reaches 20°C". No, sir. That is spring. Summer does not mean you get to wear only a light jacket. No, sir. That is autumn. Summer does not mean the sun shines. No, sir. That should happen every day, or so my friend Galileo said.

You know it's summer when you are sitting in the shade, and you feel a tiny drop of sweat rolling down your back. Summer is when you cannot think of what else to take off without ending up naked. Summer is when you drink water, and drink water, and drink more water, and you still cannot quench your thirst. My readers in GA know what I'm talking about. My readers in Barranquilla will now exactly what I'm talking about, especially because they are currently in one of the only three months when it is not summer.

Summer is when 36°C feels like an OK temperature to walk outside. Summer is when 40°C still feels OK... but in the shade. Summer is when a warm breeze brushes by and you yearn for more. Summer is when you feel like you are melting. Summer is when it is so hot you can barely keep your eyes open. Summer is heaven. Summer is wonderful.

But real summer. Not the German summer. Pff.

A friend wrote me recently, and he told me to take advantage of, and appreciate these last few days of autumn, because soon the winter will come and, as fun as the snow is, my enthusiasm--he says--will only last a couple of days. He told me to write about the wonders of the color changes, about the time change, about--well, about autumn.

But I cannot help but miss my home.

I know I've always said that "Home is where the Heart is", and my heart clearly is here in Germany. But, oh well, maybe I have to change my statement and say, "Home is where my Mom is", and my mom is in Barranquilla. Maybe that is why I love Barranquilla so much. Not because of the 9 months of summer heat, not because of the arroyos and rain that force people to stay indoors... but because of my mom. I guess, of all the places where I've lived--Augusta, Lampang, Bogotá, Barranquilla, Kiel--if I had to choose one, just one, to return to, it would be Barranquilla.

I cannot help but miss my home in this time of year. Yes, the color changes are out of this world. It is amazingly beautiful. The process of the leaves turning from green to yellow and red, and then falling, is awe-inspiring; the changed landscape with the golden leaves covering the ground is an everchanging, daily artistic masterpice; the cold wind making sounds as it dances through the naked tree branches, it seems to rock the day to sleep... the shorter days, the longer nights... the moon is bigger here, and the stars shine brighter. Yes, I see and I appreciate it all.

But if only I could go home, just for a little bit, and then come right back... well, that would be just perfect.


  1. Hey, for once I could afford to fly to Barranquilla, and you're in Germany, man. Spirit Airlines is offering a huge holiday sale: $62 one-way. Oh, well. Could have been...

  2. Aw, that sucks!! But my sister is there :-)

  3. I really have the same feeling! I looooooove Madrid, spanish people and every single place and thing to do here....but... home it's hom!
    I'm missing mom and dad a loooot! :(

  4. Im sure in thew south of Germany summer can be as hot as you wish (just as in Wien!), you are just in the "wrong" city :-)... The weather in Kiel sounds so much like in my old home, Estonia, where is exactly like that (or worst!)... there are two things they say (which are very true!): 1.There is no summer, just bad weather for skiing.
    2. There is not such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing (exactly what you just realized!)