Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The thaw

Spring is really and truly on its way, now.  Yes, I realize I obsess over this, but it we endure long months with little or no sunlight here in northern Germany, and the return of light and the possibility that the world will once again be green are what bring us through the final leg of our annual journey round the sun.

The thaw has begun. The great white blanket of snow is slowly settling, hugging the earth more tightly each day, until, in places, it simply gets too close and merges with it. I glimpsed the first bare patch of earth today... not street or sidewalk, but grass... beautiful, green—if limp and waterlogged—grass.

The rest of the landscape is slowly morphing from one of white mountains and plains to one that resembles nothing so much as a beach in winter. I mentioned in a previous post that snow removal is less than stellar here in Germany. In many places, the snow was not removed at all, merely trampled down. The most common solution to the slick walkways, then, was gravel.

We received a steady supply of fresh snow this winter, starting in December and slowly accumulating over the past two months. Some weeks, we got a centimeter or two of snow each night. And after each new snowfall, a new layer of gravel was added. It was quickly hidden by the next layer of snow, so no one really knew just how much gravel had been used. Well, now we know... the sidewalks literally resemble a beach, with anywhere from one to three centimeters of gravel in some places. Melted snow pools in the footprints we leave behind, and if we didn't see cars driving by on one side and buildings on the other, it would be easy to believe we were walking along a beach on the North Sea.

To make the illusion stronger is the flotsam and jetsam now appearing amid the receding snowbanks. The skeletons of discarded Christmas trees, the remains of New Year's fireworks, and the occasional lost mitten or hat lend the scene a surreal beach-like aura... driftwood and beached jellyfish scattered across the sand.

But the thaw is here. One of the trees outside my window has responded to the slight increase in temperature by budding leaves, and I anxiously await the coming of spring in all its glory.


  1. I never knew you had such a lovely way with words. Such good descriptions I feel like I'm there.