When I woke up it was still dark, and I had to pee. Usually this happens around 5 am, but the room was warm like it is at 2 am. I put a hand on the wood stove on my way past it and out the door, but it was cold. Strange, I thought: when the wagon is this temperature in the night, the wood stove is usually still luke warm. But it was cold, and my clock said that it was 7:30 am.* The ice had thawed and an uncannily timed preview of spring has arrived.

It’s gray and rainy most days, but it’s warm enough to brush your teeth outside in boots, underwear, and a sweater. It’s warm enough that an hour of fire in the wood stove is enough to keep things pleasant for most of the day. It’s warm enough for dresses and one pair of stockings, pants without long underwear, bare heads, glove-less hands. It is a time of rubber boots and of mud.

I worry that my tulips will wake up and then freeze to death in the inevitable cold spell still to come. I hope the mosquitoes wake up prematurely and bite it. But mostly, I take deep breaths of the damp air and am glad for the respite from wood stove vigilance and five-layer outfits. Are we in the eye of the storm? Will winter fall upon us again next week in a foot-high blanket of snow? But at least this intermission will have given us the deep breath we needed before the next plunge, and I’m already finding myself looking forward to more wood-stove-top soup cooking.

A year ago Saturday, the Beard and I got hitched in the most ridiculous costume party/shopping cart chariot race/wedding ceremony I have ever attended. Now just two years remain until the German government issues me a visa for forever, and to celebrate the sun shone for the first time in months and presented us with badly needed bundles of vitamin d.

*Tragically, it doesn’t get light here on winter mornings until sometime between 8 and 9 am, which makes getting out of bed early even more of a challenge then it already it.

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