Despite our heavy reluctance, we must accept the fact that winter is not skipping out this year. Late, like a foreigner unaccustomed to German efficiency, winter nonetheless has arrived. It has been knocking for days now, threatening to bring a potluck of snow, but we've pretended not to hear. Is that the door? Oh, no. It must be the radiators. The fridge. The TV upstairs.
The snow, predicted by weather.com, run by Atlanta-based meteorologists, was to begin at 02:00 this morning in Stuttgart, Germany.
When we awoke at 05:00, the streets were clear, the BMWs and Mercedes and Opals on the curbside faithfully metallic, not yet clocked in fuzzy snowflakes.
It seemed then, briefly, that we may yet be able to avoid this winter.
But by 06:00, flakes were fluttering downward. By 11:00, a film of white coated the rooftops and sidewalks. The white streets were decorated with black curves of tire tracks. Umbrellas appeared like sprouted mushrooms above the walkers' heads.
And then, it was official. The first snow of the year. Winter, inescapable winter, has arrived.
The snow drained all color from the cityscape. The buildings, already dull with dread, dialed back from glassy black and nondescript brown to variants of gray. The sky, endless gray. The clouds are but a gray gauze for the sky.
Even the traffic lights appear dull as they move from red to yellow to green to yellow to red. The brightest color is the motion of the mustard-yellow U-bahn trains, turning on their tracks. Keep moving. The trains always keep moving. The trains are always on time.
The rest of the landscape is still. The trees, long stripped of their lush leaves and autumn brights, are too resigned to even sway in the wind. People hurry about as if the sidewalk isn't slushy, the air isn't cold, the crosswalk isn't icy. They move as if this is how they have always moved and always will move. As if winter is normal, and normal is gray.