Gute Reisen

Now I want to get naked.

It is hard for me not to make the weather a metaphor for my experience so far. I moved here in the tail end of summer with my raw enthusiasm and excitement for this wild project carrying me along during those hot, wonderful days. Moving into my WG on Sept. 1st just in time for the weather to slowly crawl towards the grey chill that gripped the months of my maddening visa process. Now, the visa is mine, and spring keeps teasing me with little moments of warmth and sun. It will be here soon, and I will be ready.

Alex said that so many winter and autumn activities were reactions to the cold and snow that so often grips this area, and even though this winter has been, by all accounts, a mild one, I am still feeling the need to react. She described Oktoberfest as a last hurrah of fall weather, and skiing as an open and regular defiance of the short days and low temperatures. Even now  the “Strong Beer” festival is running, and I think I’ll be going on Saturday with some friends. They start drinking at 10 am, and claim that it’s impossible to drink more than 3 beers in a day, because the beer is so powerful. I anticipate a bit of a lost weekend.

The beer was brewed by monks to function as “Flüssiges Brot” or “Liquid Bread” to help them get through their Lint Fast. I’ve heard that they send a barrel to the Pope to get the OK that they could drink this without breaking fast, and the Pope thought it was so gross he said “They can have that if they want.” Each liter has something like twice the calories of regular beer, so maybe I’ll run to the Beerhall and back.

Even on days when it’s cold but the sun is out there are optimistic people sitting outside at cafes under blankets that the cafes keep on hand. Whenever I talk to Germany about the better coming   they always seem to take the attitude that I am a child talking about all the wonderful presents Santa will be bringing. A good temperature is in the forecast, and they will believe it when they wake up that day and see blue out the window. I believe well in advance, planning my bike route to maximise my exposure.

Speaking of exposure, there was a hint of sun today as I walked to buy a new bag of coffee beans, and a strange thought rocketed through my head. I wanted to strip down and get every bit of sun that I could. And I wondered if that’s where a part of Germany’s comfort with nudity came from. Another reaction. There’s a saying in German that I’ve heard way too many times, “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.” After months of carefully choosing layers, jackets, boots, hats, scarves, gloves, and everything, I can imagine wanting to just toss your clothes aside and absorb all the warmth and sun you’ve been missing. This rhythm never really got hold of me in my time Maryland, but here with each season distinct and with an accompanying cultural celebration, I feel the need to peel off my layers and get a very even tan.