It’s the little things that keep you going. Weekly small pleasures is Mani’s blog event where you share the things that made you happy during the week and I have to say that the last few weeks it has been very simple things which have made me happy: the birds starting to sing again, the wind rustling the newly formed leaves on trees that were bare for months, the smell of rain, the spring flowers, the increased light hours.
I should explain that Berlin has looooong winters. Last year it started getting cold in September and now we’re in May and it’s still cold (complain, complain). Mostly I’m used to it, but at this time of the year you really start wondering if summer will ever come. Last year it was much sunnier in spring; this year it’s a bit grey. Perhaps it is different elsewhere on the continent in Europe. We have had a few warmer days in between, and each one of them was certainly appreciated. Also really appreciated are all the signs of spring, to remind you that even though it’ s still grey and cold the season has changed and summer is on its way!
Germans often speak of the Eisheiligen (Ice saint days), which are the often-cold days between the 12-14th May (in some regions 11-15 May). A colleague today told me that there’s always the possibility of it dropping below freezing up until these dates, so the Eisheligen are the dates after which you can put your frost-sensitive plants outside again. Each day is the feast day of a saint, which is why these saints are known as the Ice saints: St. Panratius day on the 12 May, St. Servatius day on the 13th May and St. Bonifatius day on the 14 May. In North Germany they also include the 11 May in the Eisheilgen, so have another ice saint, St. Mamertus, and in South Germany and Austria they include the 15 May, which has the ice saint, St. Sophie. This year in Berlin these ice saints seemed to visit a little earlier, since we had unexpectedly chilly weather from the 8th to the 10th, but now it’s warmer again.
Every year the timing of spring is a little different, but the pattern unfolds similarly: first the crocuses start popping their white and purple heads above ground, then the daffodils follow, and soon after the trees start to come alive with blossoms in all shades of pink and white, or fluorescent new spring leaves. Not all the trees start at once, so you see some still dormant while others are blooming. But when it happens, it happens quickly: you can watch the progress of the leaves from day to day. We’ve had the beautiful big magnolia blooms already, and now we are already in the time of lilac, which has an amazing scent that travels far through the air, and we also have tulips, which I already shared lots of photos of here. Many of the trees also have flowers, which means there’s lots of pollen around (and a lot of hayfever!)
Now that it’s a bit warmer and it stays light later, we have also been taking some walks around Berlin after work. It’s nice to walk through Mauerpark, which looks pretty in spring, or visit the cherry blossoms near Bornholmerstrasse. Berlin has a lot of green spaces, and all of them look pretty with blossoms, tulips and daffodils around. The parks are fuller, and it reminds you that it’s almost time for picnics and barbecues. On Friday it was warm enough to spend some time outside at the food market in Arkonaplatz, where you can stand outside with the locals and drink a glass of wine, eat a Belgian waffle or buy homemade pasta, cheese, bread and other foods. Always a pleasure!
Another pleasure when it’s this kind of weather, i.e. not too hot and not too cold, is to go on bicycle rides. This weekend we spent both Saturday and Sunday on our bikes, riding around Berlin. On Saturday we visited a Markthalle (market hall) in Kreuzberg for lunch, and from there rode on to visit Tempelhof (a former airport turned park) and the Maybacher market by the Landwehr canal.
On Sunday we started off at Tempelhofer Hafen and then took a lovely ride down the Teltow canal, a beautiful stretch of green belt. We ended up at the beautiful lake Schlachtensee in the evening, and it was lovely to sit at a table outside with a Hugo (this is a Berlin drink of Sekt (sparkling wine) and Holunder syrup (elderflower) with mint.
I guess despite the grey weather, spring is not so bad after all 😉