Early this morning, when it was still dark outside, snow fell silently and furiously, caught by the yellow light of the streetlamps. After weeks of relatively mild weather, and a sprinkling of some truly stunning days, this sight that is otherwise strangely beautiful, hurts. It bodily hurts. Late-March snow, like any April snow, is a sharp, well-placed kick to the guts. You can feel the whole city collectively doubling over and groaning, begging Spring for mercy. You can hear Winter having a good laugh as it heads down under at a glacial pace, seemingly both reluctant to reach Australia and determined to torment central Europe just a little longer. Sadist.
Right about now, Germans stop saying ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes’ and start saying the equally as irritating, ‘April, April, der macht was er will.‘ As if having a pithy little phrase makes it better. Soaking wet and freezing cold, while gazing mournfully at a little patch of purple blooms struggling to peer through a coating of ice? Caught short in inappropriate shoes because it was sunny this morning and it now appears a flood is on the way? Come on, don’t be such a negative Nancy. You know, April, April …
And while the Germans are chanting their new seasonal mantra, the non-Germans (or at least the ones from warmer climates) are preparing to up their complaining a notch. You think we sound like irritating broken records in February? Haaaaaa. Come April, if that sun isn’t out and shining, if that sky isn’t as blue as the warming sea, if we can’t stop wearing boots and scratchy woolen scarves, if it starts snowing, we get really, really insufferable. This is also around about the time when, whenever someone asks me why I am living in Germany when I could be living in Australia, I respond with ‘I don’t know’ and then a really high-pitched, slightly manic laugh.
The word ‘changeable’ as applied to weather takes on a whole new meaning in this corner of the world. I used to think Melbourne’s weather was changeable. Then I moved to a city that can serve up gale-force winds, snow-rain, actual rain, dazzling sun and blueberry skies, and heavy, grey, stormy clouds all in the space of an hour. Yesterday, I cowered under the tiny tent of the market’s resident coffee bike, waiting for a particularly nasty shower to end, and wondering if my icy, leathery little hands would actually lock around my cooling flat white in the bitter, bitter wind. I also wondered if the coffee bike’s little red tent would remain on the ground, or soon leave it, carried away in a particularly violent gust, out to the choppy grey sea.
The tent survived, the rain stopped, the sun came out, the wind whistled, the clouds scudded. Die Lüdde and I raced home, her pram’s rain poncho flapping in the wind. I arrived home to a message from my parents, who are visiting this week, asking how the weather in Kiel is. I tried very, very hard not to respond with ‘April, April, der macht was er will.’