Saturday, March 24, 2007

The cold's come back

I had decided a few months ago that I wouldn’t be planting any new flowers in my flowerbed at the Brüsseler Platz until it was really and fully Spring. My German fellow gardeners scoffed at my timidity and went full-steam ahead with their plantings. Following more than a week of bright, warm weather - this week it snowed.

HH and I went to the playground today in the Brüsseler Platz and after tossing the odd dog dropping from the beds we set about working our way around the square from one side, where one finds the Hallmackenreuther Café, to the opposite side and the Café Chinoiserrie. These two bar/cafes are both memorable and to have one on each side of this space is a blessing.

Some days I feel like sipping the slow buzz at Hallmackenreuther - slim smokers with laptops and things to do, and some days I find myself in a Chinoiserrie state of mind, more contemplative, herbal tea in a warm cozy corner.

Today it was neither of these as HH wanted to be outside, to rock and rock and rock he did for a long, long, longer time than I could hold on. The playground vehicle he mounted himself on resembled a huge seesaw resting on railroad-strength steel springs. He announced that this playground contraption was the Continental Airlines direct flight from Cologne to New York and so we got on board and HH, as pilot, began what might have been a realistic 8-hour recreation of the actual transatlantic flight, had I not finally lifted him from his ersatz cockpit and carried him home for dinner.

The cold had reached deep down inside me, found every single slip of an opening in my coat and snuggled it’s damp, chilled nearly solid air up next to my very bones. If I don’t have pneumonia tomorrow morning it will be a minor miracle. HH on the other hand was all decked out in his snow suit and except for his hands, which were as cold as the ice-cold metal grips on his playground aircraft, he was as warm as toast. Why is it that we dress our children so much more sensibly than we do ourselves?

During the course of our flight to New York a number of my fellow gardeners passed by and we chatted about mulch and late snows and what a chicken I was not to plant anyway.

Sitting in the playground on the Brüsseler Platz on a Saturday afternoon in Cologne is just about the best way I know to get in touch with my neighborhood. Recently I was speaking with a friend about schools and had some questions. She told me in a very matter-of-fact tone, that I needed to spend more time on the playground. I’m sure someone has written a thesis paper on the subject but it was and is still remarkable to me the amount of work and communication and networking that takes place on the playground while our children are burning calories at a mercifully rapid rate.

Today was satisfying on many levels. I got a chance to chat briefly with some of my neighbors and in the process allow myself to feel almost at home here and HH got the chance to play as loudly and long as he wanted. There is something about being out of the house, even with cell phones, that changes the nature of play, whether it’s between adults or children, or in our case, between a very little boy and a not so young father. Today in the dingy cold of a winter afternoon, HH and I had a handful of minutes together that were priceless. It was worth the cold and more.

© GermanDiary 2007

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