It’s another Monday morning, computers are turned on, buzzing and the click, click of fingertips to keyboards. It’s almost like any other Monday morning – checking email, the news headlines and settling down to write – all except I’m doing it in a hotel lobby in Berlin. My co-workers: a group of environmental journalists from the U.S. and Canada. We were traveling around Germany last week touring green schools, office and apartment buildings when the volcano on Iceland began to erupt.
I was supposed to fly out Saturday morning and get back to D.C. in plenty of time to throw myself into another crazy workweek. But by Friday night, most of our flights were canceled and we had no idea where we’d sleep the next night or what we’d do as the ash cloud wafted through the atmosphere far above Europe. Of course, we’re all grown adults, journalists no less and fully equipped to survive such inconveniences. And, with the help of our hosts in the German government and the think tank, Ecologic Institute, we were quickly installed in a funky little hotel on the edge of Berlin’s Tiergarten, the city’s version of Central Park and a wonderful place that is right now full of gently unfurling buds and the first flowers of springtime.
It’s such a pleasure to experience springtime. And, here in Berlin, where they have had a hard winter, it’s easy to get caught up in the joyousness of the growing grass, chirping birds and happy Berliners who took full advantage of the mild weather and ample sunshine this weekend. They were picnicking in the park, walking and biking all over town.
It’s a beautiful city – particularly this time of year. I would like to say that I handled this unexpected change of plans with the utmost grace but there was a lot of hand-wringing and wrinkled brows before we arrived at our new digs and had rebooked our flights. Three of us rented bikes yesterday and biked – YES WE BIKED! – out to the airport, a marvelous ride which I’ll likely tell you more about later. I’m finally scheduled to go on Thursday now – which was seemingly like a lifetime-long delay only a day or two ago. That was before adjusting my expectations to the forces of nature. While we all knew we’d survive, it is something of a mindbend to be told that there is no certainly when or if you will be able to get home. We’ve all become accustomed to crossing at will the Atlantic (Pacific, Sea of Japan, whatever) that it is quite disconcerting to learn nature really doesn’t care that we have work to do, deadlines to meet and places to be.
Now that I’ve stopped worrying, I realize it’s really not much different from a regular day in the District. In fact, since it’s only just before 6 am at home, I’m really getting an early start to a productive workday! Everyone is quietly getting things done here in the lobby of the Motel One. I’ve decided to embrace the uncertainty. Tonight, in fact, we may venture to a special restaurant, Unsicht-Bar, where a wait staff of blind people serve you dinner entirely in the dark. Somehow, it seems like just the right meal for the moment.