I often find living in Germany feels a little bit like going back in time. In many ways, that’s a good and wonderful thing; in others, well, it’s just going to take some getting used to. With that said, our first winter here has been both exciting and uncomfortable.
The uncomfortable part may have something to do with the fact that our house is nearly 200 years old. I don’t think I mentioned that in the house-hunting series, did I? Having grown up in Texas, a state that’s just a few decades older than the walls we live within, that’s a difficult thing to wrap my mind around. Since we don’t have central heat in our home, we’ve been learning through trial and error how to keep the most important rooms warm enough while we’re in them. We have radiators on the walls in the bedrooms and bathrooms, along with a small wood-burning fireplace and heated tile floors in our upstairs family room.
To keep our bedrooms cozy at night, we have to pull down the blinds, turn on the radiators, and shut the doors to keep the heat inside. The conservation of energy (as well as our budget) requires a constant turning of dials, adding and removing layers of clothing, brewing hot beverages, and snuggling up like kittens under blankets. Now that we’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s not so bad, really.
But, every now and then, you might find me doing weird things like cooking dinner in my coat, no matter how ridiculous I feel doing it, because the kitchen and dining room are the coldest rooms in our house and the hardest to warm up. To illustrate just how chilly we’re talking, the other morning, I woke up to find a thin layer of ice on a pile of dishes that had been left to “soak” (ha!) overnight. I immediately imagined little mice sneaking into the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning to have an ice-skating party in the sink while we were sleeping, because… well, that’s just how my brain works.
The real kicker is, we keep hearing this is the warmest winter Germany has had in a decade or more! Since November, the rain has been nearly relentless, but we did have a good week of snow and ice last month.
To some, it was just a dusting, but for us, it was a little bit of magic. Snowball fights, snow angels, and a snowman taller than Jacob and Logan. Or a Snow Wookie, maybe. It looked pretty hairy.
One Saturday morning, while the white stuff was still hanging around, I woke up early and drove to a local toy store so I could surprise the boys with a pair of shiny red sleds. They were so excited! We got bundled up, found a good hill near our village market, and my husband showed all three of us how it’s done, since it was my first time, too!
We had so much fun!
Over the last couple of months, I’ve learned how to scope out the perfect sledding hill, stack a pile of firewood just so, thaw out a frozen parking break, and salt the sidewalks in front of our house so no one will fall and hold us accountable for an injury (here in Germany, it would be considered neglect on our part if someone slipped on ice in front of our home).
Meanwhile, my favorite flip-flops are collecting dust in the closet, and I’m finding myself stretched and looking forward to Spring. But, experiences over the last couple of years have begun to teach me that that gray area we find ourselves in when we are forced to step outside of our comfort zones? That’s where we learn, grow, and build new muscle – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
And, at the end of the day, that can’t be a bad thing, right?