The birds are starting to chirp at 6:30 and it is light when my eldest leaves on his bike at 7:30. These are things I have been anticipating eagerly for some time now. I am happy to be heading into spring; in my opinion the best season in the Netherlands.
But first The Russian Bear was let lose on us. This is a cold front that comes down from Siberia to the North East and brings unusually dry, cold air and the chance of ice skating with it. Sadly, this time around the wind that delivered the cold never abated, and it came so late in the season that the ice had difficulty forming and there were very few places – even in the North and East – where safe skating could be found.
But as luck would have it, a shallow lake near us froze over beautifully (well, part of it) and a short window of skating opened up for us from Thursday last week to early Sunday morning. The saying here goes als het kan dan moet het ‘if you can, you must’ and my love of Dutch ice skating is only slightly tainted by this pressure to get out and find the ice and then skate on it a lot until it leaves. Sometimes I get a little weary of it. But mostly not.
We also enjoyed a few days of traditional ice fun on our villages ‘Polderbaan’, a flooded field that is organized by the local skating club. There was ‘Ringsteken’, where one skater pushes another holding a long stick and tries to get the stick through a ring as they skate under it, and ‘Priksleeen,’ races on wooden sleds with metal runners and two sticks with nails in them to push yourself with (surprisingly hard to control, but our years of expert driveway sledding at my parents’ house paid off for our family).