There was still snow on the ground and a snap in the air at the end of February when suddenly shop windows sprouted spring fashions. Bright colours, thin, playful fabrics, short everything, sleeves, skirts, trousers….
It seemed bizarre, like some kind of bad joke. What world were they living in?
Just two days earlier, another meter of snow had fallen, turning grey Vienna once again into a fairy tale of fluffy white, softening sharp edges, cushioning every contour. The city became once again a magic kingdom of powder and crystal, catching the clear winter light and sending it splintering off in all directions – the enchantment of a transformed world.
As I walked to work in the early morning, the "48ers" were already out ploughing the streets, piling banks of snow along the parked cars almost completely hidden under their thick quilts of white. Other walkers smiled as they passed – was I really in Vienna? – and several stopped to snap photos with their mobile phones, of a snow-piled bicycle leaning against a feather-white tree, of recycling bins mounded with meringue.
Who could possibly be interested in warm weather wear as long as the Grand Illusionist was still at work, waving a wand over a world of imagination?