The sun shines through the brisk air. You can see the light reflect off the ice patches frozen on the water. You prepare yourself by putting on a pair of warm socks, a sweater, a winter (or heavy) coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.
As you take the first step out of the front door, your face begins to tingle as the cool air touches it. You begin to walk along the street and, looking to the left or the right, see that the blades of grass have frost; that the naked tree branches are also covered with that light white layer of cold, frozen water.
Going for a stroll through Clara-Zetkin-Park is but one (free) activity to do during the winter months. I personally find it beautiful to look around and see everything covered with frost. It makes walking a lot easier than trudging through 60 cm of snow.
Taking a break, to go outside on a sunny, frigid January or February afternoon, is a refreshing moment.
Oh, to decide whether or not to shield your eyes by wearing a pair of sunglasses, or to squint as the bright sun reflects off of the frozen surfaces that surround you. You decide, not today, today you will look directly at the sights around you for what they are: frozen.
The weather has finally taken a turn to stay in the negative temperatures, and for now, the ground has mostly hardened. Leipzig is a funny place, it’s basically at sea level, making it an area that doesn’t (or at least not for some years) receive a lot of snow, unlike surrounding cities and regions.
Leipzig is cold, but it is clear why some cyclists ride year-round.
Moving along one of the many paths through the park, on a weekday, you notice that it is far less busy with runners, walkers, strollers, and the like. If you walk on the frozen grass patches, you might even hear the crunch, crunch, crunch your footsteps make while you leave footprints showing your path.
You hear the birds that don’t migrate south for the winter; you can see them sifting through the cold ground beneath them for a tasty snack. You see the person walking on a path nearby, taking their dog outside.
As the rain has halted, at least temporarily, the dirt paths through the park have mostly hardened, so you won’t be getting muddy wanting to walk through the green space. You can see the uneven ground, from where so many footsteps have passed, and bike tires have made their lasting marks.
I see a person snapping a photo of the bridge near me, I look at the placement of the sun overhead, shining, glistening white onto the ordinarily brown or green nature. It is time to capture this moment.
Strolling along and alone, it is easy to pause whenever the mood strikes. Look to the left and look to the right – all around, it is quiet and still. As I walk along the Elster, the ducks are keeping themselves awake by having chilly baths while they hunt below for their lunch.
Are they playing or just shaking off their wings? I think they’re playing in the waters not yet frozen. Their wings and feathers keep them warm while they paddle along, staying in position against the light current.
When passing, or being passed by, the dog-walkers, stroller-movers, runners, bike-riders, walkers (like myself), I often wonder: Where are they going? What are they up to?
Taking a stroll through a sun-filled park gives you time to ponder such questions and to really be in the moment.
In the winter, I struggle to stay positive. The nights are long and the days are short, and in Leipzig, finding sunlight is rare. But moving outside – when my nose hairs don’t freeze the moment I step out the door, and I am able to just wear shoes (not heavy robot Terminator boots) – reminds me that spring will once again return, days are already getting longer, and there are some moments with shiny sun pushing through.
We might be missing out on our Vitamin D intake throughout the winter months here, but pushing yourself to go outside once in a while and enjoy the simple things, is nice.
The air begins to get colder still, the small water spaces have their tops freeze, enough so that people start to feel comfortable placing themselves on the slippery surface and get a different perspective of the park and scenery around them. The mischief play for children to enjoy themselves in, the dogs that frolic in this different sensation underneath their paws, the sounds that happen as we walk along…