I tend to measure the length and severity of the seasons by how long I spend wearing boots. If I am out of boots by May, it has been a short enough winter and a perfectly timed Spring. If I am in boots in September, I feel cheated, like summer hasn’t properly played out. Which is why seeing SG in thongs (flip flops) this weekend past made my heart sing. Thongs in October – it has been a good summer indeed. Thoroughly, one might say, played out.
Of course, the warmer weather hasn’t stopped the markers of cooler times to come, from popping up. The chestnuts are falling and, as quickly as they fall, being snatched up to decorate table settings and front stoops. ( I must confess at this point to having a bowl full of the shiny things on my coffee table – I have climbed another rung on my Becoming German ladder.) Leaves are turning and crunching beneath non-booted feet. Germans are enthusiastically digging through their pashmina collections and wrapping them around their throats with gay abandon. A lot of vests and other such functional clothing are out on the streets. It may not be that cold, but it is October and, as I have come to learn, Germans tend to follow the calendar not necessarily the temperature. 23 degrees in July means shorts and a tee shirt; 23 degrees in October means jeans and a puffer vest.
With my Mum in town, we filled the weekend perfectly to the seams – didn’t overdo it, didn’t stretch the fabric. There was a very long stroll that included almost feverish chestnut collecting, as we appeared to be passing by soon after a fresh downpour of the spiky shells; there was kaffee und kuchen, twice in one day because what is a Saturday without three types of Streusel in it?; a day spent in Haithabu learning about its significance in the history of the Viking age and enjoying the beautiful north German countryside; and a squashed visit to the pumping Bauernmarkt that filled the city with stalls of wares and meant all the shops were open on a Sunday. A rare treat. We also managed to get Mum to Paul Heyck’s for a coffee, which was deemed too strong for her – and that is saying something.
And all of this played out – the Streusel, the Vikings, the chestnuts – with nary a boot in sight.