Aah, my yearly ode to the miracle of spring in Berlin. The grey winter seems to drag on forever, grey and rainy and then suddenly, it’s over.
Spring in Berlin never fails to impress me. The cold and the last rains in April are always a struggle to endure. And then all of a sudden – wham! The sun is out the leaves are on the trees again (when did that happen?) and suddenly all is well in my little world again. I eat my first fabulous white asparagus spears with butter and parma ham. I bite into my first juicy strawberry and make the trek off to the garden centre to green up the balcony a little to grow some of my own little red miracles.
A long way away from home
Growing up in Australia, seasons like this never happened. We had summer, then it got a bit cool and rainy, and then it was summer again. A cold winter day was 15 degrees. 10 degrees was an absolute cold snap. These days the first time the sun’s out and the mercury climbs above 14 degrees I’m in a t-shirt sunworshipping in the park. A long winter like we get in northern Europe is certainly a way to help you appreciate every ray of sunshine we get!
Yesterday was May 1st – long a traditional holiday in these parts. Whether it was pagans jumping the bonfire at Beltane, witches dancing on the highest peak on Waldpurgisnacht, virgins dancing around the Maypole before night time shenanigens or the unions taking to the streets for Labour day celebrations, May 1st has a long and varied tradition – but it is always a day to mark. The long night of winter is over and now spring has sprung. Days are getting noticably longer, the trees are fully leaved and the smell of summer is in the air.
For myself, my days of dancing til dawn or dodging left wing protestors down in Kreuzberg are long past. I spent the day in the park with my family. Along with half of the city it seemed (the half not protesting or dancing til dawn!). And what a colourful sight it was. Balloons hung on the trees, blankets made a colourful patchwork on the grass, kids ran and laughed as frisbees were thrown (and dodged) badminton cocks flew and the smell of grilling meat wafted temptingly from every corner. The luxury of a day to do nothing. To lie on a blanket and read Harry Potter to my rapt son. To eat chocolate cake before dinner and drink rose wine (something I only ever seem drawn to do in spring). These are the simple pleasures of Spring for me.
Did Tulips bloom in the rubble?
Seventy years ago Berlin lay in ruins in the wake of WWII at this time of year. I wonder if the tulips bloomed amongst the rubble that year? All these years on it is hard to believe it is the same city that suffered such devastating damage and which perpetuated so much suffering around the world. I know that around the world today many difficult things are happening. There is still war. There is always famine somewhere. There are infinite personal and political tragedies with people suffering in a myriad of ways. And days like this sunny day in Berlin remind me to be profoundly grateful for my relative wealth and health and safety.
Grateful for safety
To be able to enjoy this moment of warm air on my skin is a privilege many will not have today. To be able to buy this coffee and cake, fill up my fridge from the supermarket and go home to a safe place is something I don’t want to take for granted.
Walking home I saw these amazing red tulips that seemed to have sprung straight from a fairytale. Probably a horribly gruesome Grimm tale, knowing the Germans. And I really felt like I was in a picture book perfect spring day. The sun was shining, the tulips were blooming, the sausages were grilling and the phone turned off for once.
This is the miracle of spring in Berlin. Long may it last.