“Forecast is good this week”, says my husband. We’re in bed in Berlin, with a hotty. “3 degrees, 5 degrees…”
It’s February, Summer, and I think of you. Me, the war wife in our long-distance relationship. Keeping the home radiators churning out heat, I wait for you to return from the trenches. Or Australia.
February already! Thank goodness that January flew by; one less harsh b*stard Berlin winter month to go till Spring, Summer, Summer, Summer hmmm hmmm I hum your tune.
Will I recognise you? Will you recognise me? My hair’s gone dark and my face pale. I have shadows under my eyes, dry pimply skin on my shoulders. I talked to my freckles, and they are aflutter to see you again.
Just for today, a thin effort of sun comes through – it can’t be blue sky, can it? – and the snowwoman on the balcony is the only white heap I can see from my window, all the rest gone. She’s dwindling. It almost looks inviting to step out there right now in my socks. I know this would be a big, big mistake. But I can remember what the warm boards on the terrace feel like on my bare feet. How you touched me, Summer. How you melted me.
And I remember cycling last Summer in Germany, for days – those long long days with the light smudging on into the evening like blended chalk pastels. The whizz, the breeze, the cornfields, the poppies; sandy tracks in the Deep Dark Wood by a windfarm.
Miles and miles with my husband, sometimes in each other’s wind – oh, how the wind helps when you’re turning your wheels! Sometimes side by side like a pair of dolphins.
With our 2-year-old on the back of my husband’s big heavy Dutch bike, her in the thinnest long trousers and the thinnest longsleeve blouse we could find, and a cap with a teatowel under it. Like an Arabian princess strapped to your luggage rack, perking up now and then with a bright idea: a segment of orange? a sip from the cup?
Or her singing softly with my husband; tickling under his t-shirt; fishing the label out of his boxer-shorts. Entertained with a pinecone, a feather. Stopping to sight a woodpecker, a deer; a golden oriole; windmills windmills windmills.
Cycling forever to find a lake to jump in; to swim down low with the dragonflies; to picnic beside: apples, raw carrots, cheese, nuts, rye bread. Picnics everywhere. Every meal, every drink, every date outdoors.
Feeding our little girl stuffed pasta sitting on the base of a wind turbine, looking up, listening to its whisch whisch, the shadow reaching right across the field.
How that bike reproaches me right now. The bike with the pre-Christmas puncture and the frozen saddle. When you were here, Summer, that incredible gadget was in constant use.
Treks to places with canals on the day there aren’t buses to take the lazy cyclists home: So it’s back to our lodgings, the forever return cross-country; roads with merciless lack of shade (only pylons for the birds of prey to sit on); cutting through lanes in the sweetcorn underneath the windmills; eventually some villages with storks on the rooves but no icecreams for sale. A sweet sweet magnum from a garage, devoured in the forecourt.
Sometimes these days our daughter, in her buggy being ploughed through the slush, asks for an icecream. I tell her to wait for you, Summer. When you’re here, I tell her, something special will happen. It will be like a lazy party.
Hunting the local parks and streets for pingpong tables. Music everywhere. Gigs in the street, for no reason. People sitting on their doorsteps with a beer. Everyone defrosted.
But she doesn’t know much about how things turn. How long time is. When you’re coming. I don’t know exactly either. You always show up in some form, in the end though. Come quickly. I’m so excited. So’s our daughter.
She knows that when you’re here so will her baby sister (all being well) arrive. I’ll sit and breastfeed the baby on the balcony, right where that pregnant snowwoman sits now.
I won’t care if I’ve just had a baby. I’ll still dance a fricking deranged jig of excitement the first sign of you.