It is early January. I awake at six a.m. It is very dark still and thankfully Berlin apartments are so well heated that I can emerge from my cocoon and jump straight into a hot shower without too much discomfort. I allow plenty of time in the morning to relax over a long cup of tea and breakfast, before getting rugged up in winter boots, scarf, jackets, gloves and beanie and walking downstairs, ready to brace myself for the cold air outside. It is a short walk to the bus stop and I know I will either see a slither of a moon in a dark sky, or eery fog hovering over the streets, lined with skeletal trees.
At the bus stop, I avoid sitting down on the metal seat as it would make the wait even colder. I don’t check my phone either as it is too icy to take my hands out of my gloves. Instead, I have my headphones in already and keep myself occupied with uplifting tunes. The bus driver doesn’t care that I don’t show my monthly public transport ticket. He sees me every day and realises it would take too long to take my gloves off and search around in my wallet. I sit at the back of the bus next to the heater and watch the people coming on and off the bus, rugged up in their Winter woolies.
Then, I take the short walk on the other end to work. Everything is dark and this is normal. There are many people out on the streets: parents, children on the way to school, workers. It feels perfectly safe. Fairy lights still decorate some of the balconies, though it feels a little less magical in January, especially when there is no snow. As I approach work, I can tell how many people have already arrived by counting the lights in the windows.
In the warm, cosy work place, I feel comfortable and happy under the bright lights. It is like a little bubble of goodness inside. And I stay there until around 5pm, occasionally letting some fresh air in through the window, but closing it after ten seconds before it gets too cold.
As work draws to a close, I rug myself up once again and make my way back out onto the frosty streets, this time with a small bounce in my step as I imagine a warm dinner and a cosy bed. Home is all about appreciating cups of tea, good books, learning German, watching movies, hot baths and catching up with friends. The house is full of lights, candles and blankets. It is definitely a time of hibernation. Just like the trees and flowers, people are also saving their energy for the sunshine and warmer months, which seem like a distant dream but which will approach as always, bringing life once more.
What do you do to survive the Winter? Any tips for keeping the spirits high?!