As I write this, I know some of you will strongly disagree with me. But I just need to say it: I am not made for German summer. The current Hamburg weather does not gladden me at all. Since a few days, we are experiencing what is typical for German summer. Something that I had successfully forgotten after a few summers up north where there is usually a soft breeze and temperatures do not exceed 28 degrees celsius.
German summer can basically arrive at any time between March and October. You never know when, you never know how long it will last, you never know if it will come back. Here, you wake up to 26 degrees, no sunshine. You step unto the public transport that is not air conditioned. (Wtf, really.) In this sauna that you share with all the people of the rush hour, the sweat starts trickling down your back, and you are standing face to face with the other passengers. There is hardly a way to dress appropriate for both office and weather. I mean, we have a rather lenient dresscode policy but we are still expected to be fully covered. Also, the office has air conditioning so you cannot dress too lightly there anyways.
By lunch, the heat wave has boiled the air to 34 degrees. There is barely any wind even though we are at the harbor. The air is unpleasantly humid. You remember that you have tried to darken all the windows in your apartment, but you already know that by tonight when you come home, the place will be hot and sweltering. The sun has come out during the day at least and the young students opposite your work take off their shirts on their baloncy, opening a bottle of cold beer. In the evening when you are about to leave work, the clouds gather and the wind starts to blow. The natives know what is about to happen, and it happened yesterday, too. And the day before.
You have to always bring an umbrella in Hamburg, they told you. But not in 34 degrees heat, you thought. Wrong there, dear friend. This is like a tropical wonderland and after the sultry heat of the day comes the thunderstorm. The rain pours down, the thunder growls and the lightning makes you startle. Last night’s thunderstorm took six lives in West Germany.
To me, it seems like an allegory of the Swedish and German mentality. The Swedes pride themselves for their lagom approach while the Germans stick to the attitude of Wenn schon, denn schon. The Swedish summer is not too warm, not too cold, just lagom. The German summer makes a real effort, if there’s hot weather, there is seriously hot weather.
I personally stick to the motto of an Englishwomen, Jane Austen: “What a dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.”