Friday, January 16, 2009

Dutch Treat

From the Intenational Herald Tribune
Canal ice helps Dutch rediscover national identity

In the 19th century, when Hans Brinker, the hero of the novel in which he tries to win a pair of silver skates, coasted along Holland's ice, the canals froze almost every year. But water pollution and climate change have made this so rare that today a boy of 15, Brinker's age, may never have seen a frozen canal, or at least remember one. Until, that is, this year.
"For us, it's in our genes," said Gus Gustafsson, 68, a retired insurance executive, explaining why he and his wife had rushed out to buy new skates and take to the ice under a cloudless blue sky. "It was like a frenzy that came over people, including lots of kids, like my granddaughter, who is 5." With thousands of others, they skated northeast toward the cheese capital, Gouda, then toward Utrecht.

"Water is our friend, and 10 percent of our area is water," he said. "From the oldest days, in very little villages, people could skate to each other."
Bonthuis, 59, said he had skated with friends recently but also had spent a lot of time just skating meditatively alone, leaning slightly forward, arms crossed behind his back. "It's nice to skate when there is a beautiful view of the fields," he said. "You see a lot of people skating alone."
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Deja Pseu said...

Gorgeous photo with the windmills.

Belle de Ville said...

Not only the Dutch are happy with the cold. My friend from Long Island can play hockey and skate on the frozen neighborhood ponds like he did when he was a kid. He loves it!

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