It has been a long time since I have lived in a place where the weather is not dependable.
In California, there was no need to check the weather report. 95% of the time it was going to be either sunny and gorgeous, or cloudy and gorgeous. The weather man was always correct - how could he be wrong during blissful winter days when the thermostat showed 75 Fahrenheit so consistently that you began to think it was broken?
Now, for the first time in Jacob's life, we are living in a place with seasons and unpredictable weather. It's a funny thing, for those of us unaccustomed to checking the weather forecast, to find yourself daily Googling "Vienna Weather Forecast" (which usually brings up the weather for Vienna, Virginia as the first hit).
Two weekends ago our friend Laurie stopped in for a visit while on her way home from Croatia.
We took advantage of the time to pretend we were tourists once again, happily re-exploring the city with Laurie and hunting down the remote corners of Schonbrunn Palace. On Laurie's first night visiting, we made a "quick stop" by our friend Lydia's house to borrow some extra blankets. We left three hours later, having had laid plans for dinner and a concert the following evening.
The weather that Saturday had begun to turn chilly, for which I was excited for the opportunity to wear my new down coat on the way out to dinner. Lydia had told us the previous night about a restaurant that serves "Black Risotto" a spicy seafood risotto flavored with squid ink that turns your mouth and lips black.
We sat at the restaurant looking like adults but acting like children, sticking our tongues out at each other to compare how black our mouths had been stained.
Grinning with grey teeth we made our way over to Karlskirche for a performance of Mozart's Requiem, the last piece he wrote before his death. For those of you who have seen the old movie Amadeus, it was hard not to imagine the movie the whole time.
The following day was so warm that we were running around the grounds of Belvedere Palace in short sleeves, feeling like summer had come back apologizing for having left the party prematurely. It was a warm day promising the continuance of a warm autumn.
The Viennese, we had noticed, seem to have an extraordinary ability to self-regulate their temperature. So frequently do we see people dressed in parkas, hats, and scarves the size of blankets on balmy 70 Fahrenheit days that we have made a game of counting them. Apparently they are impervious to the heat, and equally impervious to the 30 degree temperature raise in the subway that usually leaves me stripping off my coat as I drip in sweat. The other expats I have spoken with agree: it is a mystery how the Austrians remain cool, elegant, and collected in the 80 degree subway car, while the rest of us are surreptitiously dabbing our upper lips.
The weekend following Laurie's visit, Jacob's cousins from Switzerland were coming to visit. In the interim the weather changed drastically. The tail end of hurricane Gonzalo hit Vienna with such violence that the winds and rattling windows woke us up in the middle of the night. One friend's shed rolled away while another friend's neighbor got a 2x4 plank through their window...on the 5th floor.
Suddenly, it was cold. Fingers freezing, wearing socks to bed type of cold. By the time Daniela, Marcel, and their son Jannik arrived that weekend, our coats, which had been so thrilling to wear only a week before, were our only barrier between warmth and pneumonia.
That weekend was Austria's National Day, for which they were holding celebrations in the city center. Jacob and Jannik took a picture with two soldiers. You can only see one of them in the picture though, because the other one was wearing camouflage.
As I stepped onto the tram on Saturday afternoon I saw an unusual sight. Now, rather than bundling in enough warm clothes to be mistaken for a Yetti, a Viennese woman on board was wearing a thin sundress, the equivalent of a bathing suit cover-up. I [tried not to] stare at her in disbelief. Here I was, rubbing my hands and stamping my feet to keep warm, while she waltzed around in a cotton handkerchief.
Clearly, the Viennese have some kind of superpower.
That evening we joined Daniela, Marcel, and Jannik for classic Wiener Schnitzel at a well known old Schnitzel restaurant. As you can see, our schnitzel was larger than our plates.
The following day found us back at Belvedere Palace, however this time the sun was hiding and the flowers had been removed in preparation for winter. "It's definitely winter now", I shivered to Daniela.
"Agh, no...", she said, all cool and collected, "This is nothing. Just wait."