03 March 2018

Winter: "Don't dream it's over"

When we all thought that winter was finally over (not that it was a heavy winter, it was actually mild), then comes the Siberian wind, sending temperatures down to -15 C this past few days. It's like winter was singing that song by Crowded House.

Anyway, this past winter, as is typical in Berlin, was quite mild. I know that other Berliners would probably complain, but since I have endured 7 years of winters in Buffalo, I know what a strong winter season is like, and my winters for the past 6 years I have been here in Berlin was all mild and incomparable to that in Buffalo. These mild winters would be just filled with cloudy days and temperatures hovering between +5 and -5 Celsius. And the past week, we thought it was starting to warm up. After all, it was already March, and the flowers were slowly waking up.

And then that cold wind from Siberia came. The flowers were all frozen and dead, and we humans were all bundled up. You know it's cold when the news reports about the dangers of homeless people freezing on the streets. You know it's cold when the plain-clothes-dressed ticket checkers on the train don't force you to disembark when they catch you without a ticket, and rather just stays on the train inside with you while recording your personal information. You know it's cold when you walk outside the streets and you feel that the interior of your nostrils seem to freeze just by breathing through them. You know it's cold when you see frozen streaks of dog urine and frozen chunks of dog poo on the streets resembling spilled chocolate ice cream.

Unlike in Buffalo, I don't have a lot of experience when it comes to severe weather here in Berlin, or in Germany as a whole. Weather here is typically mild and quite bearable. So when extreme cold like this happens, it reminds me of events in the past. In fact, I think the only time I have experienced a winter this cold here in Europe was in February 2012. I haven't moved to Germany by that time, though it was in fact in Germany. It was in Stuttgart, during my first visit to Germany. I was presenting at a conference in Tübingen, so I flew from the USA to Stuttgart and then took the train. It was -15 Celsius in Stuttgart, and even though I had a full day to waste to explore Stuttgart before I took the train to Tübingen, I spent most of it indoors. The ironic thing was that Buffalo at that time was rather warm, when it was typically cold.

Anyway, so for now I am bundled up. I have my winter gear still out, even though the days are starting to get long. Hopefully the temperatures slowly climb, as is forecast for next week. I am actually looking forward to that.

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