Phwoar this time of year really takes the wind out of my sails, or the tiny bit of puff that is remaining after months of cold, dull grey. Obviously the Baltic hasn’t run out of puff – the ice wind scudding in off that particular body of water gets right down to your bones, and sends you shuffling home from the Spielplatz, the weakest parent, the one so obviously cowed by the cold, while the real Kielers just suck it up and keep digging resolutely in the damp sand. But I’m done. I’m all out of my hibernation, let’s-get-gemütlich positivity. That well has been sucked dry and is now parched. Like my skin and hair and nails. As if the kalk level in water up here wasn’t enough to strip you of all natural oils, the heated, recycled indoors air will wring out the last drops. (Although this week I can’t solely blame the repulsive weather for my malaise, I can also cast aspersions on teething toddlers and beckoning third trimesters. Basically I will be able to rustle up at least five good reasons why I can be a really irritating naysayer for the next week, until March comes and February is firmly behind us, and there is very little one can do about it.)
However. The sun snuck out yesterday, and you could almost hear it cackling as everyone blinked in surprise and said, ‘back so soon?’ In bright, sudden bursts, it leapt out from behind the clouds and doused everything in its reach with a sense of hope. I opened all the windows, washed the laundry, the apartment, and my hair. Starting the ball rolling on Spring cleaning gives one the most bubbling feeling of anticipation. Rooting out all the stuff you don’t need, finally throwing out plants that have really, frankly, been dead for 2 months, not just a little red-leaved and crackly. Getting into all the nooks and crannies you didn’t realise could get so offensively dusty. Keeping windows open all day, even as your feet start to feel like lead as the afternoon cool sets in. The windows are open again today, and even though the forecast promises rain this afternoon, for now everything is that wonderful pale gold that promises winter is winding down. We just need a little bit more patience.
Around this time of year, we look for colour wherever we can find it. In flowers that shiver outside florists and perk up once they’re inside and in water that isn’t nearly ice. In the mandarins and citrus beginning to creep into the supermarket, even though 50% of that sack of clementines you ambitiously threw in your trolley will erase the top layer of your tongue. In pools of sunlight, green herbs, and those cold, clear blue skies that stretch until the actual evening, not what I would term ‘early afternoon’. I haven’t yet seen those darling buds poking through the earth, or sneaking out of branches, but the birds are out and about, loud and wheeling. Outside our kitchen window, the big beautiful tree that gives me the most wretched allergies, appears to be sporting some feathery additions that promise bucketload of gloriously green allergens. Bring it on, tree. Because when I am sneezing, winter is over, and that is a beautiful thing.