In November, my husband and I went on vacation to the Canary Islands. We left the island on a cloudless, gorgeous day, and arrived home to face the worst winter I’ve ever experienced. German winters are unbelievably brutal. The clouds are thick and un-moving and the cold is endless. I couldn’t have imagined such horrible weather prior to coming here. Where I grew up, even on the cloudiest days, the clouds are always moving, if ever slowly, and occasionally break to let through a few beams of sunlight. Here, the clouds are stubborn. I’m told it’s due to the mountains south of us. The clouds appear to get stuck, and for weeks (WEEKS!) we didn’t see the tiniest ray of sun. It was relentless, and I never before realized how much I’m affected by the sun (or lack thereof).
I slept a lot – too much. I got depressed. I had good days and bad days, but looking back, I remember them being mostly bad. But then at some point, it seems as though I began to get accustomed to the lack of sun and my mood improved.
But it’s not just the clouds. In my hometown of Northwest Arkansas, winters get extremely cold (much colder than Germany). However, about once a week, there’s a stupid-warm day. As in, it’ll be -5° F one day and a week later is 65°. And for one or two days, you get a break from the biting cold and actually drive with your windows down.
Here, it’s a steady 30° to 40° all winter long which means that one day of snow could last up to 4 weeks on the ground. The un-changing weather means I have much fewer migraines and, overall, feel healthier, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times I wished for one of those crazy-warm Arkansas winter days.
The good and bad thing about being in love is that time seems to move much too quickly. I know one day I’ll wake up and be 70 and wonder where time has gone, because even the worst winter of my life seemed to fly by. Suddenly it was mid-February and I noticed that the clouds were yielding every 3-4 days to expose the cloudless skies and warm sun, and it was glorious. Those 1-2 days of sun every week made the cloudy days seem totally bearable and I thought, “I made it. I survived the winter.” The day I realized I’d endured the worst of it was perhaps the best day I’d had all winter. And now that we are nearing the end of March, just about every other day is sunny and I can’t begin to express how happy that makes me. As for next winter, now I know what to expect, and I’ll be ready for it.
I have many friends and family members who express jealousy over the fact that I live in Germany. Those who have visited claim a deep love for this country, and I get it. While German winters are cruel and brutal, German summers are quite the opposite. Being here in the summer is like a dream (a dream I’ll appreciate even more after having endured the winter). But I would advise those who love Germany not to come in the winter because your passion for this country would likely dwindle to a flicker, and nobody wants that.