Soup days

It’s that time of year again, when warm liquid food starts sounding really good. Our neighbor keeps saying what a nice November it’s been, and I can only inwardly sigh and feel sorry for the Germans, who have a very strange sense of what ‘good’ weather constitutes. We’ve been having lots of cold and fog. So much fog that the skyscrapers of Frankfurt can’t be seen for days on end. Add to that a few sprinkles of rain, and you can understand why I dream of an escape to Arizona.

'Good' November weather

‘Good’ November weather

Instead, and in preparation of Roo’s coming, I decided to mass produce several liters of soup for our freezer. We now have potato soup, carrot soup, and creamy pea soup ready to go!

soup days

Ingredients for a warm winter

Winter, do your worst! Roo, please be gentle :)

 

Little things

It’s that time of year again, when winter begins its slow and steady approach. Although we are still safely in the plus digits, this Arizona girl has busted out her warm winter boots and down jackets (thank goodness one or two still fit!). In Frankfurt, there was a persistent fog hanging over the skyscrapers until yesterday. And one sure sign it’s getting chilly, even the Germans aren’t sitting outside as much – my favorite little coffee house is starting to burst at the seams.

But there are definitely some nice sides to this inevitable change of seasons. Cozy things like homemade soup for dinner, reading a book cuddled under a blanket, and clementines. I love them! They’re like little packets of sunshine and goodness!

clementines

Why all this talk about sunshine

As the dreary post-Christmas winter settles upon us here in Düsseldorf, I’m sure I will start complaining about the weather again. While I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to ride my bike in the rain in a while, my biggest point of contention is still the lack of sunshine for what feels like days (and sometimes weeks) on end.

Nice people who can’t fully fathom my climate-related distress are always trying to pep me up with statements like, “but it’s so nice to be inside and cozy and warm while it’s gray outside,” or “cloudy days make you appreciate the sunny ones that much more” (see more here). Oh, you poor people, I always say…

To put my obsession with sunshine and generally good weather into perspective, I grew up in the second sunniest place on the face of the planet, really. www.currentresults.com says so.

And, while researching sunshine stats, I also ran across this on weatherspark.com: “The median cloud cover [in Düsseldorf] is 85% (mostly cloudy) and does not vary substantially over the course of the year. On June 17, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 17% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 40% of the time.”

Numbers don’t lie. I’m not crazy after all.

And a final word, for all you pepper-uppers, “Düsseldorf has…no dry season.” (weatherspark.com)

Average hours of sunshine for the ten sunniest places on earth
Country Place Year Day
United States Yuma, Arizona 4015 11.0
United States Phoenix, Arizona 3872 10.6
Egypt Asswan 3863 10.6
United States Las Vegas, Nevada 3825 10.5
Sudan Dongola 3814 10.4
United States Tucson, Arizona 3806 10.4
Chad Faya-Largeau 3792 10.4
Egypt Kharga 3791 10.4
Sudan Abu Hamed 3763 10.3
United States El Paso, Texas 3763 10.3

March Madness

It’s been a hard week of weather to deal with in Düsseldorf. Spring, which the budding trees, the chirping birds, and I have been patiently (why lie?) waiting for, is taking her sweet time. First it looked like there was hope – the sun was shining, and I was giddy at the sight of my own shadow. And with good reason. It was “the darkest [German] winter of all time.” (See? There’s more to my weather drama than the fact that I’m an Arizona girl through and through!)

Then we had another bout of snow, or Schnee.

Schnee Auto

I appeased myself with trips to the coffee house and with cozy pots of tea at home.

Coffee house

Cozy tea

Then we had snow and sun. Oh, what a glorious combination – light and color in the world again!

Sun and snow

The crocuses and those who dared sit outside at the coffee house despite the freezing temperatures weren’t showing any weakness.

Crocuses and snow

Outdoor coffee

Then the snow was gone, and Toby and I took advantage of a sunny day with a long walk along the Rhine.

Rhine in March

Yesterday it was so nice that I actually rode my bike to work without a beanie, my hair blowing in the wind (something I haven’t felt in longer than I care to remember). This is in stark contrast to my winter riding gear, which I’ve taken to calling the Reverse Mask of Zorro.

Reverse Mask of Zorro

Too bad we’re back to a lovely combination of rain and snow again today. Somebody stop the madness!

Transformation

I’ve decided that November in Düsseldorf is not so bad – three parts wonderful, one part yuck. These are pretty good odds based on my 16 months of research. While the temperatures are dropping, the sun shines more days than not and is always accompanied by clear, blue skies. Back are the thick jackets, scarves, and beanies. The trees in the Hofgarten have lost nearly all their leaves, and the sun now shines straight into our living room.

Despite the inevitable start to winter, the timbre of the city takes on a decidedly livelier note with the approach of the accompanying holiday season. Store windows present their best holiday wares, and the Christmas markets that have been under construction are finally open. Their friendly lights, delightful food smells (Nutella crêpes anyone?), and Glühwein bring people out to celebrate friendship and good times.

The fact that I find myself liking this time is an astounding transformation in and of itself. This past weekend I had the very German urge to go for a Spaziergang (a walk, merely for the sake of walking) despite, or maybe because of, the crisp air. Why let a little winter stop me when I can cuddle into my down jacket, wrap a scarf around my neck, and go out for a bit of fresh air?

Did I just say that?!

It’s all relative

I’ve been sitting on this for a while but absolutely had to share. Check out the email my sister got at her work as a perfect example of relativity at its finest. Remember, she lives and works in Phoenix.

“Effective Monday, October 8: All associates will be switching to “winter appearance” as our Valley temperatures are now consistently below 100°F.”

Okey dokey.

Peep

What’s the best way to avoid impending doom, i.e. winter? Escape to warmer climes! Which is what Toby and I did, and why you haven’t heard a peep from me until now. First we spent ten days playing in my beautiful home state. Then we had a few weeks to catch up on laundry and repack for some adventures in Thailand. Ah, life is good when you bank all your vacation until the end of the year….

Arizona was wonderful. We hung out with A every day. We celebrated Daddy’s 70th birthday and swam in his pool. We took Mom out for coffee and margaritas (not on the same day). We ate Mexican food and our one-year anniversary cake top. We went out with friends and shopped. We visited the Phoenix Oktoberfest and hiked in our favorite Phoenix-area mountains. We had a Grand Canyon adventure.

Thailand was an adventure of epic proportions and perfect for our long overdue honeymoon. There were temples, jungles, and beaches; mosquitoes, elephants, and monkeys; bicycles, rickshaws, and longboats; and lots of rice. It was a different world for us, and we had fun creating so many new memories together.

But, by definition, all good vacations must come to an end, and so now we’re back home. While it is definitely cold (gloves, beanie, and scarf are a must for bike riding now), at least the sun is shining. The piles of laundry are done, Toby is back at work, and I’m back to getting my fitness career up and running. Right before Christmas I take my test for my personal trainer certification; it’s time to take The Christina to the next level. And in January I start my very own Zumba class; I finally will be paid to shake my booty in front of a room of people.

Now, if that won’t keep the winter doldrums away…