Disregard the seasons

I know what you did last summer!

Munich is only beautiful in summer? No way! Our author turns a blind eye to the season and lives one city day in winter as if it were summer.

Winter is annoying. It spits its icy cold into my face; with my shoes and jacket soaked through, I waddle into the office every morning. Stupid weather. It’s been like this for almost half a year. Enough is enough! I’ve had it – time for winter to end. I don’t want to wait any longer for summer to arrive. So the good news is: I don’t have to!

Munich doesn’t depend on blazing sunshine or tropical temperatures. In the Bavarian capital, I am the Prince of Tides – and I can make my own summer. At least, that’s the plan I’m attempting.

Before you go on, dear reader, I need you to do me a favour. Place your right hand over your heart and swear the following oath: “I (insert your name here) promise that I will keep secret everything that I learn here.” Done? Great. After all, I’m really not keen to be met by armies of winter-weary travellers storming the greenhouse and crowding me out while there’s still a chill in the air.

If that happened, I would be compelled to head to the Botanical Gardens on the 7am tram and lay my towel out on one of the benches there before heading back home to sleep for a couple more hours and then getting back on the tram again. What a pain!

You might think I’m crazy. When I asked my mate Finn if he wanted to come with me, he just shook his head and tapped his forefinger against his forehead. But we’re talking about a guy who pops to the graveyard around the corner to relax on a blanket in summer. To relax. On a grave. So who’s the crazy one?

Entry into the greenhouse in the Botanical Gardens costs €5.50 – cheaper than a sun lounger in Majorca, I think to myself, handing the money to the friendly cashier who points out where I can leave my winter clothes. I won’t be needing them! Great!

I hand my jacket in at the cloakroom and sit down, book in hand, on one of the benches in the greenhouse, amid mighty palm trees and lush, green ferns.

As soon as I set foot in the tropical house, warm air caresses my face, and it feels like that moment when you step off the plane in Thailand.

I hand my jacket in at the cloakroom and sit down, book in hand, on one of the benches in the greenhouse, amid mighty palm trees and lush, green ferns. A few children on a class outing run past me every so often. That is not entirely relaxing, but it’s not nearly as irritating as the pushy vendors hawking sunglasses in Spain. Hmm... And now?

If I were on the beach, I would simply stretch out, close my eyes and doze off. But I’m worried that if I do that here in the tropical house, they’ll probably kick me out. That would be rather unpleasant. So I open my book and start to read. Reading barefoot in the warmth, surrounded by nature. That, at least, is no less enjoyable in winter.

It’s not summer if you haven’t been to the open-air pool at least once – some of the best memories of my childhood were made there. I can still taste the first Capri-Eis ice lolly my mother bought me when I was a small child, and feel my heart racing as I put sun cream on a girl’s back for the first time there. The swimming pool is to summer what Christmas trees are to Christmas.

And luckily, the Dantebad swimming pool is open all year round. It sounds like a pretty chilly place to be – but actually it isn’t at all, because the pool is heated. Well, I’ve never yet been there myself, but that’s what I’ve been promised. As I head to the Westfriedhof graveyard where the Dantebad is located, swimming bag in hand, I am expecting a small outdoor pool area, the kind you often see attached to indoor pools.

So I close my eyes and murmur to myself, mantra-like, the following words: “It is warm. Really warm. So nice and warm”. And? Nope.

But picture this: for an entrance fee of just €4.30, I am greeted by a stately 50m pool, heated to a balmy 30 degrees. Wonderful! Though it should be pointed out that the one thing you can’t do is ever get out. The moment you’re out of the water, you freeze like a kangaroo in Lapland. But some people say that the power of the imagination is even able to cure cancer – and if that’s true, mustering a few lousy summer feelings should be a walk in the park. So I close my eyes and murmur to myself, mantra-like, the following words: “It is warm. Really warm. So nice and warm.”

And? Nope. Still Baltic outside the pool. No chance of a delicious Capri-Eis on the decking, then. Even less chance of getting to rub cream amorously into some girl’s back. But we still need something to look forward to in summer.

Who decided that barbecue season should be in summer? Okay, a heavy fall of snow might make it hard to get the charcoal lit, but as long as the air is dry, I can’t see any reason to delay the delightful ritual of cooking meat out in the fresh air – it’s not as though cavemen used to grunt: “Hey honey, it’s too cold today to cook a sabre-toothed tiger over the fire. Let’s make some wild berry mush in the hut instead”.

The Neanderthals weren't as soft as all that, you know. And according to the 2017 survey on barbecues, performed by opinion research institute Mafowerk, 41% of men agree with me, and also barbecue in winter. But today I am alone, as I sit on a thick blanket on the banks of the Isar, my jacket hood up to protect me from the cold wind as I lower some meat onto the barbecue. It sizzles.

“Summer’s here, whether you’re sweating or freezing, summer is what goes on in your head”
Wise Guys

Ahh, music to my frozen ears. A few walkers pass by and look curiously to see what the crazy man is doing there with a barbecue in winter. A dog comes running over, trying to scavenge a piece of meat; a grandmother and her little grandson hurry over to capture him. “What’s that man doing?” the child asks, and the grandmother answers: “He’s enjoying himself.”

She’s right, that granny. And I pass the child a sausage from my barbecue. Then, I put a piece of meat between two halves of a bread roll and, my mouth full, I hum that old classic by the Wise Guys: “Jetzt ist Sommer, egal ob man schwitzt oder friert, Sommer ist was in deinem Kopf passiert” (“Summer’s here, whether you’re sweating or freezing, summer is what goes on in your head”.)

 

Text: Maximilian Reich; Photos: Frank Stolle