There's a joke that here in Berlin there are only two seasons: summer and winter. And to an extent, it's true. The winter is long and cold and dark. The moment the sun peeks out with any semblance of accompanying warmth, Berliners have shed their coats, taken up sunbathing and moved their lives to a Biergarten. Then a few short months later, it's time to pull out that heavy outerwear once again.
For those of us that hail autumn as the best season of the year, there is thankfully a respite, albeit blink-and-you'll-miss-it short, that is the most gorgeous and glorious fall here. The trees are adorned with multi-hued, autumnal splendor and the weather is just so that you don't need to break out the down coats, insulated boots and woolen hats quite yet. Sometimes, there's even sunshine. It's the kind of day that back in California we would take for granted, it would be just another day. But here in Berlin, it is something to savored and celebrated.
We had one such day earlier this month, before the temperatures dipped closer to freezing and the sun had begun its decent towards the earth at a painfully early hour every evening, that all but insisted we get out in nature and make the most of it. The sun felt warm on our faces. The leaves crunched beneath our feet. Bailey was like a crazed animal, running, fetching and splashing as if it was her last chance before the world iced over. We spent a few hours at one of our new favorite spots in the city: Jungfernheide Forest along the banks of Lake Tegel.
If Grunewald is the spot for rambunctious pups to gallivant and families to hike, Tegeler See is where older couples stroll hand-in-hand and younger people sit on blankets and hammocks at the water's edge, reading or just quietly taking in all in. This large body of water (second largest in Berlin), with substantial forests - Jungfernheide and Tegel - on either side, stretches out serenely before you. Stately sailboats and two-person rowboats soundlessly glide across the water, completing the picturesque scene. It reminds me a lot of where we spent our honeymoon on Lake George, in upstate New York, in all its peaceful, autumnal glory. Even the planes from nearby Tegel seem to be muffled by the forest and its unspoken treaty with the city to keep all of hustle and bustle outside its leafy confines. In all, the perfect spot to enjoy the last throes of autumn.
So it is with some reluctance that I say farewell to my favorite season. Sure, the winter solstice is still several weeks away, but we Berliners know that silly seasonal rules don't apply here. The trees on our street have shed all but a few of their golden leaves, trips outside require bundling with all manner of winter accoutrements and the Christmas markets have already begun. For us, winter is here.
Here's to a spectacular close to autumn, wherever you are, a happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and a magical start to the holiday season!