Well it’s really here, this winter thing. But the adage about “no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” is true. I like this winter, mainly because our apartment is nice and cosy, and it’s totally different to an Auckland winter. It has the cherry on the cake: SNOW.
It doesn’t matter how cold it gets – everything looks prettier with snow. And then some days it warms right up to 10 degrees or more, and then everything looks pretty because it’s in the sun and you haven’t seen the sun for a while. You can’t lose. We are still fascinated by snow – it’s best when it first starts. The snowflakes look so big, and they just float down so slowly and so quietly, they almost seem shy, like “Oh hi! We’re not sure if we’re supposed to be here, but…”
I guess one downside is a lack of daylight. In midwinter (21 December) sunrise was at 8:30am and sunset was at 4:00pm.
I didn’t really need the “am” and “pm” in there did I? Oh well.
And that was tough for the kids when they start school (like, seated in class, ready to go) at 7:45am most days – and then Jack does two days a week where he finishes at 4:15pm. But, we’re a month on from shortest day and already it’s not dark until around 5:45pm.
The other lack of daylight problem was that I was finding it hard to go running, which is really stupid because my working hours are so flexible. So after the new year I just decided I would go running before anything else (work, grocery shopping, laundry, yadda yadda) and that’s working really well. I run in the nearby woods and they look so beautiful in winter – and they look different nearly every day: light snow, heavy snow, then it melts, then it forms giant puddles, then they freeze over… There are deer in the forest too and until now I’ve only caught sight of them disappearing into the forest. Today I saw one properly, only about 12-15 metres away.
Our winter food discovery is hot apple juice. We had it at a food market in Metz (France) and we’re hooked on it now. When the kids come home from school and come in from the cold I have hot apple juice on the stove for them.
At New Years we went back to Sweden and on our last day in Stockholm, Molly and I got to go skating on an enormous lake that had frozen. I can’t describe how amazing it is. Like, when you skate in an indoor rink, the ice is white? Well on a lake, the ice is black. Underneath, you can see bits of lakeweed, or icy bubbles, sometimes the surface has had ripples which have frozen so it’s not always flat. And when you skate you cut up tiny bits of ice dust which (because you’re outside) the wind then blows across the surface of the ice in powdered white swirls around your feet. It was sunny and there were dozens of people out on the ice, or sitting on the rocks with thermos of hot chocolate… it was like a winter dream, it really was.
And then last weekend Jack and I decided, you know, rather than just watching all these winter sports on Eurosport, we could actually GO to one of them, I mean, they have them here in Germany. So we opted to go to a World Cup Biathlon event in Ruhpolding – in the German Alps, near the border with Austria. If you’re not familiar with biathlon, it’s cross-country skiing (so you have to go uphill as well as down) and then shooting (so your pulse has to recover quickly enough for you to shoot your five targets – and you only have five rounds). We’re not actually big skiers ourselves, I think we’re more sort of fascinated by sports that we would never see in Auckland. Also, for me, there’s something almost accessible about a biathlon. Like, I could never ever ever compete in a downhill ski event or a ski jump – I would be terrified. But, you know, I could train hard and learn to shoot, and maybe one day…
The snow had not been very heavy so the 4-hour drive to Ruhpolding was really easy, we then took a shuttle bus to the arena and sat with hundreds and hundreds of Norwegians – honestly, MORE than half the crowd in the stand was Norwegian. Afterwards we drove 2 hours back to stay with W’s sister and her family in the Allgäu. And when we woke the next morning, guess what the weather was doing …
Our house, the day of the first big snow – 27 December:
Heidelberg, the same day. See the remains of the Christmas market in gold:
Norrköping, Sweden, 28 December:
Stockholm, 4 January:
Biathlon, Ruhpolding, 16 January, women’s 7.5km sprint. The tiny figures on the red mats are the athletes. Shooting.
And now you know what Norway’s flag looks like too:
Snow in Kaufbeuren, in the Allgäu region of Germany, 17 January:
More photos from Kaufbeuren, 17 January:
What I see when I go running (specifically 21 and 22 January):