In Berlin, the four seasons are very noticeable. Where I come from, there are pretty much two seasons – rainy and not rainy – but here, there is always some kind of spring, summer, winter, and autumn. Global warming is blurring the lines a little bit and certain seasons have been known to make late appearances, but they’re still there.
The seasons are visible when you look outside, but you can also see them in people’s moods. In the spring and summer, everyone is smiling and cheery. They spend hours outdoors in parks and café patios, sipping coffee, beer, or wine and chatting. The playgrounds are always full of children. Winter, however, is a different beast. Berlin winters are dark, dreary, grey, and oppressive. The shorter days and colder weather darkens people’s moods, causing them to retreat and huddle up indoors.
This winter came very late. Most of December and early January was as warm as autumn and early spring and on top of that, it was uncharacteristically sunny. Then, early last week, the temperature suddenly dropped. It snowed long enough to signal to everyone that winter had arrived.
A few days of snow left the city gleaming and white and on top of that, it’s bright and sunny. It’s one of those unusual winter days where people are almost as cheerful as they are at the height of summer. Many people are outside taking advantage of the crisp, fresh air and brilliant sun. Children are out in full force and although the playgrounds remain empty, the hills are covered with toboggan tracks. Volkspark Friedrichshain is full of people strolling through the snow, jogging, or walking their dogs. Afterwards, many of them funnel into nearby cafes to warm up with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Everyone is smiling and spirits are high.
The sun reflects off of the snow, which is still fresh enough to be white, causing the landscape to appear almost brilliant. It’s a perfect winter day, one that almost lets you forget that it’s well below zero outside.
*Note* If you’re a local and you’re wondering, “Where is this sun you speak of?”, I wrote this yesterday after I went for a long walk in the park.