Back to the needle rain and white skies, back into boots and blanket scarves and piping hot showers that make your skin prickle, but your feet warm. But something shifted while we were away; on the way back from the shops yesterday, I realised it was still broad daylight at 4.30pm. And when I looked out the window last night, as it was nearing 6pm and our tired little household were preparing for bed, there was still light in the cranky sky. The worst of winter – those immeasurably long dark days that bleed into one another, making it impossible to discern when day breaks and night falls – has receded. (I say that fully aware that by skipping out on 25 of those days, we cheated a little bit.)
Trips away are funny things, like windows of time that only really mean something to you. You come back home and go to doctor’s appointments and do grocery shops and make your coffee in the same coffee mug every morning, as if nothing out of the ordinary occurred. Those few weeks you were on the other side of the world somehow muddle in with everything else after you close the door on them and slip back into the everyday.
Home does seem fresher, though, after you’ve been away, even if only for a short time. The clothes you wanted to burn (does anyone else want to burn their winter jumpers and coats after a while?) are a tiny bit exciting again. The view out the kitchen window doesn’t seem so stark, but quite lovely in a wintry way. And that first brisk stroll out in the zero degree temperatures is bracing in a novel way. I remember returning to Germany in February of 2013, after six months in Sydney. It was arschkalt and snowing, and I was thrilled. I skipped down the streets and almost relished the snow on my face, while the rest of Kiel glowered behind their fur-lined hoods.
Yesterday, I put SG’s entire wallet in the wash, clean forgot my bank card PIN at the supermarket checkout (with a large queue of people behind me, not a jot of cash on me, and a trolley full of food) tried to leave another shop having not signed my credit card receipt, and spent a long time wondering where the onions were while unpacking groceries at home. In a bag, it turns out, sitting in plain sight in the hallway, that I had entirely forgotten existed. Jetlag is a little shit of a thing when flying from Asia or Australia back to Europe. (Flying in the other direction, it is a sledgehammer and a bus combined, and leaves you comatose or manically awake at 3am, for a solid week.) But flying back, it plays little games, makes you think ‘oh it isn’t so bad, I feel fine’, and then wipes your memory clean at key moments, or leaves you staring at a wall for a while, wondering what your name is. Or googling how to spell February.
Naja, we’re home. The weather is nasty, but since when is it anything else in February? Tulips are appearing in the florists, but at some extortionate price, like strawberries in May. And we are making some preparations for the next big adventure; welcoming die Lüdde’s little brother in three short months. A Spring baby, who will arrive with the sun.