Winter is definitely not my favourite season and the list of things I dislike about it is far longer than the positive items.
Layers (and layers) of clothing: when I first moved to Berlin back in 2001, one of the aspects of living here that my then three-year-old daughter and I had a devil of a time adjusting to after all those years in India was all the layers of clothing you have to deal with in winter. Stockings or leggings, socks, undershirts, long sleeve shirts, pullovers, cardigans, scarves, hats, gloves, and finally, overcoat. Ugh. Oh, yes, I forgot boots. I feel like a marshmallow every time I go out of the house and it is incredibly claustrophobic. Luckily this year it hasn´t been that cold to merit double socks and thermal underwear, and on most days I can ditch the hat and gloves as well (I end up losing them anyway). Unfortunately the silly umbrella has become an almost permanent fixture in my daily wardrobe. Summer where are thou?
Slippery roads and sidewalks: we may not have snow this year, but the combination of rain and icy temperatures is absolutely dreadful, making for slippery roads and sidewalks. I have witnessed so many people slide and unceremoniously crash while crossing the road this past month that it is alarming. Hence the importance of proper footwear that have solid traction, to hell with being fashionable! A commuter has other worries.
Sunset at 4:20pm: the short days and extended darkness plays havoc with everyone´s mind. Mentally I begin to look forward to going home when the sun begins to set, but then I look at the clock and realise it is only 3:45pm. Sigh.
Laundry takes forever to dry: No, I dont´t have a dryer, and for a single household I don´t believe it is worth the expense. Convenient it definitely is, there is no denying that, but owning one would double my electricity costs. So I hang the laundry in the bathroom on the shower curtain rod, where there is a vertical heating rack right next to it. Delicates can go directly on the rack if I am in a hurry, otherwise, a mobile clothes rack and the curtain rod do the trick nicely. I once made the mistake of hanging the laundry outdoors in winter, having been naively fooled by the sunshine and wind. An hour later all the underwear was frozen solid.
But seeing no plausible way to avoid it whilst living in Berlin, I might as well make an effort to find the positive side to it:
Ample refrigeration space: ever since the outside temperatures dropped below 9C, it was safe to keep drinks, leftovers, fruits and vegetables outside on the balcony. My fridge is small, so it fills up really quickly without even trying. The additional space that the balcony provides is incredibly practical, given that the temperature is often colder than the fridge. On some days it will act more like a freezer extension! Cooling white and rose wine was never so easy.
Sunshine on a cold day with a hot cup of coffee in your hands: this is almost a cliche, but when sunshine is so limited here in Europe during winter, the sunny days are to be maximised and enjoyed to the fullest. Even the cats agree. I absolutely adore the mini-jungle in my conservatory on such days, and the coup de grace – Bossa Nova music in the background!
Hot chocolate and mulled wine: who says mulled wine is just a Christmas drink? If I have the company, there is nothing that warms up the apartment faster and more aromatically than homemade mulled wine. Oh, and nothing beats hot chocolate with a dash of spekulatius spice as a comfort drink (add Baileys if you had a rough day).
Candles galore!: Extended darkness can easily be transformed into something acceptable and bearable with the aid of candlelight. Please ignore this statement if you live in a country where power outages are a regular thing and candlelight fundamental necessity to go about the household chores! I associate candles with silence and serenity these days, unless of course one of my cats sets herself on fire.
Photography: you didn´t think I would leave out photography among the list is of favourite things (cue Julie Andrews) did you? The two photographs above were taken this past weekend during a small break in the rain clouds. There is something about bare trees in winter that I have come to cherish as a photographer over the years, and I find them far more interesting and substantial as subjects rather than their summer versions.