Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where the boats can no longer go



I think it's probably true to say this is my first real winter here in the Netherlands. Having lived here full time now since January 2001, I'm pretty sure there has been nothing like this in all that time. Personally, I find this intense cold quite hard to cope with, but it has its compensations, the principal one being that much of the surface water in the country - and there's a lot of it - is now completely frozen over. Although it means we boat people are a bit stuck (our friend Philip is stranded in a frozen canal in France), for the rest of the Dutch population it's as if their beloved winter sports have come to them. In fact they are flocking with unaccustomed and quite wildly enthusiastic joy to any stretch of ice they can find. They've all dug their skates out of cupboards long since assigned to 'cold' storage on account of global warming, and are taking jubilant advantage of a Dutch tradition also thought to have died from climate change: eating pea soup and drinking chocolate milk supplied from a small stand on the ice.

For me - well, I just love watching them. It's such a marvellous sight to see sometimes even lone skaters skimming gracefully over acres of natural ice, miles away from towns and commercialised ice rinks, just skating for the love of it. It really is very beautiful, and as the sun shines low in the sky, and the light leaves a pearly pink glow, casting golden shadows across this frozen world, I have to agree, it beats our usual mild but miserably soggy excuses for winter by a very long chalk.











The stunning photo at the top and these last two are Koos's. I think they just say it all. The other two are my takes on the winter scenery!

17 comments:

  1. You have this fresh take on a tradition we bloggies tend to take for granted.
    This is a loving piece of writing, Val, and your photos are superb. I hope your readers find the time to click on them to see how great they look in enlargement.

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  2. Wonderful winter photos Val. I love the sun through the iced woods. Nice. the world is so at odd with the weather, we right now are supposed to be having cold rainstorms, filling our creeks etc. But for the next 14 days they say, sun! very strange, it was 70 degrees today! I am not trying to make you feel bad, it is just very odd that's all. Global warming....

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  3. "You have this fresh take on a tradition we bloggies tend to take for granted."

    I meant to type cloggies, as in Dutchmen.

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  4. Hi Val,

    it's very cold here in Kassel, too.
    We have a lot of snow and all is frozen. My both kids are back in her beds and they are reading. We had our breakfast, but now I must go and say this must be comming to an end. Think we will have a walk together. In my house it's not very warm, because I need new windows in our living room.

    Wish you a fantastic sunday.

    Love
    Stefan

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  5. I love the tree picture, so lovely! What a great set of photos all though and the ones of the skaters really special. What joy!

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  6. Great pictures, Val and Koos! Tine to lace up some skates and join them, Val. It's more fun than watching.

    xx
    AM

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  7. LOL Grace, I'm not really serious! I can well believe that while it's most definitely very wintry here, your weather is defying it all ;-)

    Shame Stefan, it sounds as if you are simply cold there! Don't your children like skating? It seems to be great way to keep warm!

    Yes String, I think it really must be joy, and in answer to Anne Marie, I wish I could join them, but I'm afraid I don't know how! I've never skated in my life, and Koos can't either - maybe something to do with being a skipper's child...

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  8. My friend in London was also saying the same, how the uncommon cold is so difficult to bear. They've not used to such colds (which, to be honest, at some degrees below zero are pretty mild in Finnish standards) in the last 10 years or so.

    Skating... I had similar thoughts as you the other day. Coming back from the north, I went to the seaside and found that it had been so cold in Helsinki too that the bay was all frozen over, thick ice even like a skating rink. I could've walked to the nearby islands across the ice. There were skaters there, coming from who knows where (might have been a long way, given that Helsinki is surrounded by the sea). While I'm not much into the actual skating, I do love to watch the skaters. The graceful (or not so graceful ;-)) gliding over the ice defies gravity and is as if it gave you wings. And when it's skating on natural ice, covering the sea or the river, it's a bit like walking on water, isn't it? Well, that's what it is in actuality too. There's a tremendous sense of freedom.

    Well, now it's been well over zero degrees celsius for several days, so all that is gone.

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  9. Val, my Mauritian-born mother learned to skate when she was 45. It is one of the things I do admire about her- I am about that age now and I'd never have the nerve to start now. She went to the rink across the street from our house every morning when we had left for school and did it all by herself.

    ... So you can too!

    xx
    AM

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  10. You see, there really is something to be said for cold weather!
    The photos are phab!

    xx

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  11. ... and I can HEAR the skates!

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  12. well, now you know what it's like for us up here in the cold north...
    the older i get, the more the cold gets to me. if i could find a way to teleport myself to a warmer country during the cold period, i wouldn't doubt for a second!

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  13. oh, i forgot to say i love your photos. the first one looks like it could be a painting by norman rockwell.

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  14. LOL :)
    I would like to quote a comment to my own blog dealing with the lack of sunspot activity in August last year:
    "Well, some really pessimistic guys are predicting a new "small ice-age" like the one that existed between 1550 to 1870 when there for some decades were no sunspots activity at all. Maybe Val and Koos can go ice-scating on the canals within some few years :)
    I hope not..."

    And here you are... skating!

    Nice photos, I agree with Ingela, the topmost picture could be a painting by Norman Rockwell!

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  15. Wow, I missed all these comments here! Hans and Ingela, how lovely to see you both! Yes, Norman Rockwell it could be too...I was put in mind of Lowry, but you are right ;-) Hans, I have been quoting your sun spot activity post for weeks now...lol...you may have had a point there, hey? Anyway, I shall now have to rush over to your blogs to see what you've been up to!

    Anne Marie, I might just do that! If your mum can, maybe I can too...but I'll have to wait for the ice to come back ;-)

    Maria, great to see you too, and I've seen your skaters now..lovely photo there! I imagine you are much more used to this than we are....

    Dale, the photos are fab aren't they? Koos is a genius with that there lens. As Margie once said, he has camera lenses for eyes!

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  16. I can't skate to safe my life, and I don't miss it at all! Am quite happy watching, preferably on TV;-)
    But we have had temperatures of minus 15 or more (or is it less :-) ) and my friends go out ice skating on the sea! I was almost tempted.. but then I remembered my father trying to teach me ice skating, and his and mine despair, and my blue and swollen knees... So I will just settle for the hot chocolate milk and the glühwein!

    Glad to see you are enjoying it so much!

    xx

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