Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Life in Kiel

Autumn Lurking

There is an approaching postal vote in Australia (regarding marriage equality, because no, Australia hasn’t quite been able to gather its shit on that issue). I can’t vote in it, because despite being a citizen, I have not been a resident in Australia within the last three years. There is an approaching federal election here in Germany. I can’t vote in that one either, because despite being an employed, tax-paying resident of this country and raising two little Germans to boot, I am not a citizen. Ain’t life funny.

I thus find myself in a purgatory of sorts, but not one that doesn’t befit the ordinary state of things as an immigrant anyway. (We inhabit the in-between as a matter of course.) I have no say in what happens in my country of birth, nor my country of residence. I could, of course, apply to become a German citizen and relinquish my Aussie citizenship, thereby earning the right to partake of democratic processes here, but forever be a tourist in my own country. I haven’t quite unpicked that knot; perhaps I never will.

You know what else has been a purgatory of sorts? Summer 2017. Save for a few lovely, hot, sticky, sunny days (full of ice cream and sprinkler runs and barbecues) we have hovered somewhere between sort-of-cold and sort-of-warm since a rather lovely June. It has been wet and windy, occasionally humid, sometimes a bit hot, slightly stormy, quite often really, really rainy … but mostly not really anything at all. It’s like summer, real summer, just failed to get off the ground. Failure to launch. Summer, a season I so often associate with yellow and blue, has been, this year, very green and quite grey.

And now, now autumn has crept into our mornings, stealthily and possibly wearing a cloak so we don’t recognise her and wonder why the hell it’s 12 degrees on an August morning. It was foggy and cool this morning, and I felt the overwhelming desire to light a candle which I always want to do during colder weather (a coping mechanism that gets one through months of winter grey). The fog burnt off and we had ourselves a warm, sunny summer’s day and I thought, oh August, you sly old fox – hobbled as you are, you’ve still got a few tricks up your sleeve.

With a summer running out of tricks, and autumn lurking, I found myself writing a nesting to do list the other day. There is spring cleaning, there is autumn nesting. Autumn nesting ensures that, when winter comes, the kids’ jackets are big enough and stockings and boots fit. It ensures the cellar and shed are cleared out and the car is cleaned of its yoghurt smudges and sand. Red wine slowly replaces white, summer clothes that should fit this Christmas in Oz are stored, and anything der Lüdde has outgrown is put in a pile for other babies.

Semester starts soon, which means it’s back to work for me. And die Lüdde, well, she starts Kindergarten. My little girl. So it isn’t just the leaves that will change around here and, like I always am when change initially looms, I feel simultaneously resentful and excited, at once ready to jump in but also desperate to stall the march of time.

It seems, even in purgatory, there is progress.




  1. Abby

    24 August, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I feel your pain. Its my first Berlin Summer and it has been one big fat let down 🙁

  2. carly

    24 August, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I have been excluded from this postal vote too because we have been her almost four years…it stinks! Australian’s have been tasked with a job our politicians just can’t seem to manage and now some of us are being excluded from our say. And don’t get me started on the not summer this year…how can it be over already!

  3. Brigitte Moe

    24 August, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hallo Liv,
    Maybe the Germans will allow you to have dual citizenship if the Australian gov allows it. There is a way to have German citizenship and another.
    I would never ever give up my German citizenship and just became a dual citizen of the US and BRD after getting a BBG (Beiberhaltungsgehnehmigung) from the German government.
    Ich bin seit über 30 Jahren in US und mußte nur meine Bindungen in Dschld beweisen.
    Ich weiß Deine Situation ist anders, aber kannst ja mal nachhaken.
    Good Luck!

    1. Jim Holder

      24 August, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      Yes, even Stefanie Graf (she really doesn’t like to be called “Steffi”) has retained her German citizenship and has not applied for US citizenship, even though she lives with her husband Andre Agassi in Las Vegas, and is likely to remain there for a long time…And Liv, another great and insightful report!

  4. Bart Rosenberg

    24 August, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    You could come to the US, register to vote, and be counted as one of the millions of illegal voters a certain president is prone to excoriate. With luck, you could be mentioned by name! Think of the immeasurably valuable publicity for just the cost of an [Air Berlin] ticket.

  5. Ute Antje Seemann

    24 August, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    yes, Liz, that’s our lot: I voted once in the German elections, then we moved to South Africa and stayed – and never, ever thought of giving up our German passport. Don’t give up you Australian one. it’s who you are …. now, decades later, I am not sorry and more so that we also kept our children’s German passports going, plus they acquired SA ones … love your columns …. from an ex-Neumuensterer who sometimes is homesick, but forgets it quickly when remembering the COLD

What do you think?