Winter up here always waits until people are muttering about how mild and wet January is. By then, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have usually taken a battering and the northerners start banging on about how lovely some snow would be and how it isn’t winter without snow and snow snow snow snow. Meanwhile, everything on the ground is brown and everything else is grey, so, truth be told, a blanket of white would improve things vastly. And then, as January comes to an end and February, the most hideous of months looms, the temperature drops and in a gust of dry, icy air, winter shows up, resplendent in some sort of white fur coat, laughing throatily.
Then the snow comes. It’s so quiet, you never hear it. The first fall that stuck this year began at night, while we were watching TV. A flurry caught my husband’s eye and he flicked the terrace light on – everything was white. She may laugh throatily, but she can be terribly, terribly stealthy. Temperatures dropped well into the minuses that night and have stayed so, which means the snow that fell last week was a thick layer of ice until some more fell today. It will be ice tomorrow.
Winter, real winter, is finally here.
Everyone starts talking about how lovely it is to have a few dry days, how the snow always brings some sunshine. The blue skies are so crisp they hurt to look at. Spirits surge. Then the cold really sets in. The roads get icy, windscreens need scraping and driveways need shovelling every morning. Boots are permanently matschig, in fact Matsch becomes the word you hear the most until May. That brilliantly blue sky turns white, as if it’s a bubble full of snow, waiting to burst and no one wants to go outside.
But the kids find anything that slides – an old box, a tray from the kitchen – and playgrounds are full of them shrieking and zipping down anything remotely resembling a hill. And somewhere, in somebody’s garden, or on the side of a matschig road, Schneeglöckchen will soon start poking their head above ground. And every day brings with it three extra minutes of light.