Friday, March 18, 2005

Wallowing in Spring

Most Germans—at least, those I've observed here in our village—take their seasonal responsibilities very seriously. When we had our first cold snap in the fall, everyone dutifully trooped out for the last lawn-mowing and hedge-trimming of the year. On the third day of spring weather, people could be seen sweeping and scrubbing sidewalks, trimming rose bushes, and putting out new flowers. So I find it humorous to see one house where they still have plastic evergreen garlands and candy canes festooning their balcony. They may not have made it out on the balcony since they put the stuff out, but you can't miss it from the entry to the house.

After the first day or two of industriousness, though, everyone is out catching some sun and enjoying themselves out of doors. Even though the river is up over the sidewalk on the north bank again (all that melted snow had to go somewhere), the river meadows farther down were covered with bodies when I rode the bus past this afternoon. At the moment [of composing], I myself am soaking up some sun at the playground with Darling Daughter, whose goal seems to be filthing herself up as much as humanly possible. She's taking a break from throwing herself off the swing into the dirt to watch a ladybug that landed on her hand. This week we've seen our first ladybugs, bumble bees (the size of jawbreakers), and butterflies of the year.

Another marker of spring is the annual migration of the ice cream parlor owners from the Mediterranean. ("Italian ice cream" is *the thing* around here.) Their return is heralded by the appearance of patio furniture outside of every shop that can be considered a dining establishment by the furthest stretch of the imagination. Last year, it was still pretty cold when the restaurateurs decided it was spring, but people flocked to the outdoor tables like lemmings, huddled up in their heavy coats and scarves.

I can't help but compare this spring to the one we experienced in Sweden, which started *late*. D.D. had to hunt easter eggs in a snowsuit because it was that cold, and there were a few flurries while we were outside. I don't think we actually saw the sun until early May. I don't remember exactly *when* it was, but I remember going downtown and seeing that every inch of grass in every public area was covered in half-dressed bodies, and every shop was empty. I thought I, the Texas-raised girl who was used to 360 days of sunlight a year (only a slight exaggeration; the Austin visitor center site says it gets 300 days), was the one to appreciate it the most, but it turns out that power-sun-worshipping is a popular sport in Sweden.


Darling Daughter has some strong prejudices. Lovely Husband was flipping channels on the TV and came across a concert by some German singer I'm not familiar with. D.D. immediately declared that he was too old to be cool (about 50 in her opinion), plus he was singing a country song, and that was definitely out. So be forewarned that she has deemed herself at almost-8-years-old to be the arbiter of all things cool.

On the way home from the playground D.D. was telling me that she likes to call the still-leafless trees naked. Then she said, "I see your penis, tree! hee! hee!" It's hard to keep your cool in front of your child when you want to fall down laughing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Spring Fever

It is glorious outside, the epitome of a spring day. The sun is out; we could tell before we even got out of bed this morning. I hadn't noticed—thanks to all the overcast recently—that the sun is already much farther north in the sky. Our car's external thermometer said it was 15C (around 67F) yesterday. This Sunday is the official first day of spring, but it appears to be getting a running start. I'm all for it.

There are snow-drops and yellow and purple crocuses in the neighbor's yard, confirmed with Darling Daughter's binoculars (thanks westtexasgirl!). A little snow is clinging tenaciously to a few roofs and the shadier parts of people's yards, but I have full confidence that it will be gone in another day or two. Oh happy day!

Self-flagellation, again: If it weren't a time-waster itself, I'd make myself write 100 times, "I will not fart around." But instead I will work on my paper. Only 16 days until the due-date. Ack!

Composed March 12

At the supermarket meat counter (pre-packaging is not so big here), you can get ground beef or pork or a mix, so I asked for the mix to put in spaghetti. I get home—and it's pork all the way, baby. I should have suspected something was amiss when the woman gave me the exact amount I asked for, because she usually messes it up on the order of 100 grams. Something had to give, I suppose.

The mistake wasn't enough to ruin my lovely spaghetti dinner, but I was still a bit put out. So Lovely Husband says, "Eat pork and be merry," only he puts in a slight pause after "eat." That cracked us up. Now he's considering sending it to the Pork Advisory Board as a new slogan. Even if they don't use it, it will be immortalized here in my blog.