The past ten days or so have been a bit hectic. It appears that I contracted a rather nasty chest cold somewhere between northern Germany and Copenhagen. I felt pretty okay, but my ribs ached so much that I almost cancelled my long-planned trip to Kinross in Scotland last weekend. By the time I left last Thursday, though, I could tell that the worst was over and I was fairly sure I was no longer contagious. Just in case, I had my Scots hosts swing by a chemist’s shop and I picked up some good ol’ Robitussin. That did the trick.
Kinross is about an hour outside Edinburgh and my friends’ cottage backs onto a nature preserve that surrounds Loch Leven. The loch is idyllic; lots of wildlife, birds especially, along with cows and sheep. Rabbits abound as do foxes and badgers, apparently, which has compelled the wildlife authorities to build a rather elaborate fence around much of the grasslands bordering the loch so that the birds can nest without fear of having their eggs poached (so to speak…).
Four days of eating when hungry, sleeping when tired, drinking when thirsty and chatting whenever the occasion arose did much to re-energize me. The sun had followed me to Scotland and we had four brilliant days with springtime temperatures. Lots of walking.
My flight back to Germany took about ninety minutes but we lost an hour of time because of the time zones. Nonetheless, I was back in the apartment at a decent hour and managed to get a good night’s sleep before my second seminar on “agency” on Tuesday. That went well and four of us, two students, another professor and I went out for dinner afterwards. The sun had set by then but even though the temperature had dropped, we sat outside at a café with a bunch of hardy Hamburgers and enjoyed our meal. One thing I’ll say about the Germans: they are a hardy lot. There are many cafes that offer outdoor seating, even in March. They simply provide cozy, colorful lap robes for people desiring to enjoy their food and beverages outside in twenty degrees. Kids play outside even on the greyest of days; parents watching over them with their shoulders hunched and hands stuffed deeply in their pockets. With the weather improving, there’s work being done everywhere to freshen paint, repair winter damage and make the plazas and courtyards inviting.
Spring has definitely arrived here. It gets dark much later now (thanks in part to the clocks being set forward last Sunday) and the grass is greening daily. Flowers are everywhere and flowering trees are already beginning to drop their blossoms. Runners have shed their insulated running pants and ice cream parlors are doing great business. The streets are a-bustle with Hamburgers enjoying being outside without raincoats, hats, gloves and all that. Time to turn your face up to the sun.