today it is raining in regensburg. heavy, icy, european rain which i am so thankful for. for the grey and the cosiness and the cathedral bells churning as rain pounds the pavement and as I pedal down narrow alleyways, cobblestoned, hair flyaway in the dark. watching fleeting clouds dance across the ever-changing, darkening sky. thankful for the clattering of my shutters, so loud it feels the world is tumbling down. thankful for the knowledge that it’s not. that the afternoon can be spent sitting in a warm room reading, drinking tea. there’s something of the wonderful in an oh-so-ordinary rainy day.

yesterday was nikolaustag. a tried and true german tradition i previously knew very little about. a gaggle of schoolchildren burst into the staffroom dressed as angels during the erste pause and started to sing. the teachers joined in. i marvelled at the entire spectacle, somewhat bewildered. but also very touched. it was entirely sweet. a little girl danced around the room distributing chocolate. later, as i was planning lessons in the school library, one of my abitur students slid a chocolate nikolaus across the table. ‘ein geschenk!’ he whispered. i am grateful for kind pupils who brighten every day.

it was also referendartag, meaning that every trainee teacher in regensburg descended upon the school for a reunion. every hallway was filled with people. children ran through corridors hollering. a fire almost broke out when a little girl with long hair knelt too close to the adventskranz (advent wreathes which now adorn every table in school!) there was a permeating sense of festivity. celebration. and chaos. and it was just nice. 

then christl dropped by with surprise nikolaus presents. she is so sweet to me. they insisted i come to dinner with them so we drove back to their quiet town in the rainy darkness and cooked a quintessentially bavarian supper: sauerkraut, kartoffelbrei, endiviensalat and (not so german) sojawurstl. we made plans to visit the princess’ christmas market on friday.

weihnachten is in full swing. the main street of my donauinsel is shooting stars from every lamppost and everywhere one goes, men perch precariously at the top of ladders. they are stringing up lights, brightly coloured ornaments, winter wreaths. they take christmas most seriously here. i have also seen the happy sight of children riding bikes with tinsel weaved around their baskets. an ingenious idea, which i may have to plagiarise. i’m making sure to appreciate every moment of december. because who knows when i’ll next have the chance to experience a bavarian advent? soon, i hope. because bavarian advents are magical. 

and, for that, i am also most grateful. 

auf wiedersehn! i’m off to smile in the rain.