In the Pankow Bürgerpark, Berlin

Saturday afternoon and the weather is unpredictable. In May you have to hope for a nice weekend, and this one is not sure how exactly it wants to be. When the sun comes out it is too warm for a jacket. When it hides behind the cloud it is too cold for a jumper. It is a reminder that summer is not yet here.

But still, with the first sign of sunshine and the first blossom on the trees Berliners head outside, to the beer gardens, the playgrounds, and most of all, the parks. At the Bürgerpark in Pankow families kick footballs around on the grass, or attempt to launch kites into the blustery sky. The goats grazing behind high fences look unimpressed at being watched by young kids in football shirts, waiting for a cup final that will take place past their bedtime. The beer garden is half-heartedly open, with sausages on the grill and beer on tap, but the shutters are down on the ice cream stand as if to say, “come on guys, not yet…”

Around the back of the beer garden the Panke river makes its sedate progress through the landscaped park, past the bandstand and the flowerbeds, heading south towards the park limits, to Wedding and beyond. Joggers and Nordic walkers collect red grit from the path on their expensive shoes, and kids shovel sand in the playground. The fountains are on, but it is too nippy for anyone to be sitting on the white benches to enjoy the show.

We kick a ball around and at half time sip beers on the grass. But after a while it is too cold. You cannot wish the summer to be here, however long you have been waiting. We gather up our things and head for home, just as the sun decides to make a more lengthy appearance, just in time to offer up a perfectly clear, if slightly chilly, evening.

Words: Paul Scraton
Pictures: Katrin Schönig

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