Pining for snow
When I left the Netherlands in 1983 I could not remember when snow had last fallen or when the country had been bestowed with a winter harsh enough for the Eleven Cities tour to take place. As a youngster I had loved snow and ice-skating, but from my teens till my early twenties, winters were bland. Humid cold, stormy, rainy days, occasionally snow unworthy of mentioning and although I owned ice skates I didn’t have the need for them anymore. I do not remember any of those last winters hindering my cycling to work.
Johannesburg, where I settled at the end of 1983, has a climate very different from the Netherlands. Dry winters and rainy summers down south. That first winter I was stunned and abhorred when everything turned brown and yellow and stayed that way for months. I was told that it snowed once every ten years in the city and that the last time had been in 1981. Hhmmm. Instead of loathing rain, I got to love it (Holland, like England, can be quite gloomy with many drizzly days in a row). You simply look out for it after six months of its absence while suffering the views of the scorched fields and parks, and you, as a new immigrant, start to look forward to it just as much as every other resident in the region.
To this day, more than ten years after leaving South Africa and having lived in the Netherlands for a whole year now, I love rain. But I love snow more. As a child I used to sit on my knees, leaning against the back of an easy chair, looking through the window and up into the millions of whirling snow flakes. Snow flakes seemed huge then! Is it any wonder that the longer I lived down south the more I longed for a good old fashioned winter? Exactly thirteen months after I left Holland they were able to hold their first Eleven Cities tour in 22 years’ time. A friend sent me a beautiful publication of the event. I was immensely jealous and peeved! It was weird to see pictures of my country fellowmen tackling the frozen ‘tundra’ of Friesland while I enjoyed my second Jo’burg summer.
Holland is good to me
A year ago I arrived in a certain area because of three reasons. I had googled 1) house to rent, 2) pets allowed, and 3) wifi internet. It was miles away from my family and in a province I had visited once or twice during the summertime several decades earlier. I didn’t know that it would be colder here than at the North Sea coast. That geese and Whooper swans would be flying to and fro all day long. Roes running past me in the forest. A huge forest virtually on my doorstep, sand drifts not much further, as well as an old peat collection area, now protected. I just wanted to live somewhere safe with my pets and be spherically connected, so to speak. No, I would not have dreamt of asking for all those wonderful ‘things’ that I got. But then again, I knew then and know now, and have known for quite a while that Mother Nature loves me (and I’ve loved her right back). It’s as if she opened a treasure chest for me.
Pines in the snow
Here then, some (cell/mobile) pictures of my walk with Pantouf through a recent layer of snow (the second since early December).
During the last snowfall, the walking paths, pavements and roads seemed to hold too much warmth for the snow to accumulate on them (it had been exceptionally mild for a while). So no slipping and sliding. Therefore, the ideal snowfall.