In keeping with a recent decision to make the most of this town, because it won’t be forever, and acknowledging a continued attraction to lakes , yesterday we went swimming. The weather smiled most benevolently, hitting 32 in the afternoon and staying in the high 20s well into the evening. It was heaven, pure and simple. Hot, breezy, white-linen-sundress heaven. In a matter of two days, Summer had ousted Spring and there was nowt to be done but find another body of water and befriend it.
But first, there were strawberries to prepare. I decided lake-lazing simply had to include stawberries with chocolate for dipping and so simply melted down one one hundredth of the chocolate we have lying around, by putting it in a little container on the window sill. (The remainder of it re-solidified over night and now I just have a delicious new chocolate bar to enjoy today … which I may or may not have eaten for breakfast.)
We drove thirty minutes out of Weiden (this time in the other direction to the original lake jaunt) to a lake called Murner See. It was, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. There were buttercup-filled fields, edged with dark green forest to drive through, a few dusty roads to trundle down and the scent of plenty of fresh cow manure to breathe in, before we arrived. It was glorious.
The Murner See is a big, pure ground-water ‘Freizeitgewässer’ – recreational lake – and Wikipedia assures me the water is sehr sauber. It is also sehr kalt this time of year, cold enough to make your legs hurt. But we swam anyway, counting down and jumping in, then hauling ourselves back out when it got too much, when the icy water clamped down on our chest and thighs. But it was worth it, to stand in the sun afterwards, with cold skin and a racing heart.
We lay in the sun, ate strawberries and drank beer – they did, I drank white wine from a Hamburg gluhwein glass – and I was quietly smug I had been together enough to remember I actually own a picnic blanket. I am not the kind of person who ever remembers such practical items as things to lie one, so a checked picnic blanket was an utter bonus. Another bonus? Cracking out my Australian flag towel I got for my birthday this year …
Afterwards, sun warmed and weary, we made our way back to the car and I am of the belief there are few better feelings in life than that pink-nosed, warm-backed trek back to the car, after a day spent by water. Towels and hair are damp, someone is always pinker than the rest, and all you want to do is have a shower and sit on a deck somewhere with a glass of wine and someone who knows their way around a barbecue. This urge is universal and the Germans love a good grilling, so we retired to the balcony of a friend for wurst and schweinesteaks. I will argue another one of life’s Top Feelings is the realisation that, in order to run out to the shops and get some supplies for an evening of grilling, you need only throw on a dress and a pair of thongs. When it hit me that I didn’t have to put on pants, boots and a jacket, but instead a cotton dress and my Havaianas, I nearly cried.
Summer days spent by the lake, something I have quite fancied for a while, growing up on a steady diet of Northern Hemisphere literature and TV (Dawson’s Creek seemed to be full of lakeside summers) are not at all like days spent on the beach. They are pleasingly different. Lakeside, everything is green. You lie on grass, beneath big trees and wade out into the flat water (and break key rules such as ‘don’t swim in water that you can’t see through’). That’s dirt on your feet and between your toes, not sand. That is earth your hair smells of, not salt. And if you are in Germany, that will be one of a million different types of Wurst sizzling on the grill, not a classic, nameless snag spitting on the barbecue.
But it’s all good. All of it.