Spring has finally arrived in Berlin and seems to be making up for lost time. Well, for the last two days at least. The daffodils and tulips have exploded in bursts of colours all over the city, as have the crocuses and hyacinths. The flower shops are loaded with primroses and I spotted the first potted herbs as well. My celebration of spring was to move several of my beloved potted plants that spent the winter in the conservatory. They have now taken up residence in the mini balcony as a buffer to the still bare trees outside. Because of the long winter, the magnolias are just beginning to show off now, so all the other leaves on bushes and trees are still trying to shed their winter layers as well. This is one of the rare moments that I am grateful to live in Germany and relish all the four seasons. There is something magical about spring, an awakening of many forms, an affirmation of the resilience, and the continuance of life. If only humans were as quick to follow suit.

garden7a natgeo
embrace the lightness ©MTHerzog

It was truly a joy to hang up my thick down jacket and pull out my spring coats instead and trench. Best of all, I don’t have to put on thermal stockings anymore either. They definitely kept me warm but the claustrophobic in me hated wearing them all day. Thick woollen sweaters have also been retired for the year, as have turtle necks. Ah, time to breathe again, and learn to embrace the lightness of being.

After having shed some furniture over Easter, apartment also has a much lighter feeling to it, a sense of space that I had missed and aspired to achieve. I no longer harbour the dreadful sense of living in a furniture store, which is something many Asians, myself included, are guilty of: filling every nook and cranny of the house with a piece of furniture, whether purchased or inherited, and in the end, no matter how big the house is, or how good you are in interior decoration, it is a lot, far too much and you lose that valuable sense of space. The European (and Japanese) tendency towards towers minimalism has grown on me, and if divorce and Empty Nest have taught me anything, it is to whittle down to the minimum and improve the quality of life.

Lightness, however, is easier said than done. Just when I think I am on the right track and getting back on my feet, something comes along and I find myself back along rocky roads. These past weeks have also been about shedding layers from the past, emotionally and physically. It is a time to turn around and face the pain. My therapist has been working with me on the psycho-social-emotional level, and I have jumped on the bandwagon and gotten caught up in the carousel of doctors. I don’t know how else to describe it other than a carousel because I have the feeling of being sent around in circles and not really getting anywhere so far. The family physician referred me to the neurologist, who in turn sent me onwards to the radiologist for MRIs and CT scans and hinted that he will send me to an orthopedist as well. Grrrr. I am spoiled from the Philippines where you can have everything done within a single building or complex and a specific doctor, but here you get referrals to a genre and it is up to you to find your own specific doctor. Tough luck if you are like me, relatively new to the city and for all intents and purposes, a new patient to all the doctors I have been referred to. Getting an appointment takes months, so the entire process stretches out in the most frustrating manner. Once you are in the carousel, however, and are classified as a returning patient, it gets easier to get appointments, especially emergency cases though not for psychiatric situations as I found out in December.

The death of Kessy reminded me how short life can be and that nothing can be taken for granted. I went over all the photos I took of her and was glad I did so. She was not like Champagne who posed gamely for the camera, but she eventually got the hang of it and I could document the short transformation of a four-legged angel. My little Champagne, however, is mourning the loss of her housemate and is not thrilled about being left alone the whole day while I am at work. But this will be a temporary situation because the animal shelter called me on Monday to ask whether I would be willing and able to take in another emergency adoption case. I didn’t even have to think twice and agreed on the spot. I will be getting another senior citizen, but not as old as Kessy, so there might still be hope for Champagne to end up with a proper playmate, not just an unobtrusive housemate.

Not all the layers have been shed yet, but it is an ongoing process. After all, spring has just begun.