Sun. Glorious sun.
Ever notice how the Netherlands is a completely different country when the sun is shining? Seriously. Every year it catches me off guard as the transformation is so instant and extreme.
This past Sunday was a glorious sun-shinny day, so the family and I set off to explore the city. We didn’t make it too far, as ThingOne was feeling “all bunched up” in our new double stroller and “needed to run”. The impending crisis was avoided as her “I NEED TO GET OUT” cries coincided perfectly with our stumbling upon a spacious city square/playground.
The loveliest thing about this particular playground is that the fenced in sandbox just happens to be next to a terraced cafe, which just happens to serve adult drinks on the playground. Who says you can’t find good service in the Netherlands? 😉 So, the hubby and I ordered our G&T’s in plastic beakers and took our spots on a sunny bench overlooking the nearby canal.
I gazed around taking in the sights of the Netherlands “first-days-of-sun”. Things were definitely different: birds were chirping, trees were blooming and the sky was an unfamiliar blue colour. But, that wasn’t all: the people themselves were different. Relaxed. Happier. Friendlier. Chattier.
Just as I was about to comment on this. A Dutch woman plopped down beside me and started enthusiastically chatting away. As if by reading my mind the first thing out of her mouth was: “Isn’t Amsterdam an entirely different city when the weather’s warm?”
As long as I’ve lived here, I’ve always thought that Dutch people are seriously sun-deprived. The Dutch winter is long, and wet, and dark. Oh, and did I mention it’s long? Some years it feels like it spans the better half of the calendar year, and some years it actually does. But with those first few sunny days, the country comes alive and out of the dark winter trenches emerges the beautiful city I fell in love.
On those first few sunny days, every cafe, bar and restaurant throws open its door and eagerly starts setting up their terraces. Dutch people haul their dining rooms chairs (and sometimes tables!) outside their homes and sit proudly on their stoops soaking in the precious rays. The city’s outdoor parks and squares immediate fill up. Endless boats cruise the canals.
It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, if there’s sun, the Dutch are nearly obliged to be out and about. Work? Didn’t you get the memo?! Work can wait- the sun is here! Don’t believe me, take a walk around any city in the Netherlands this week and you will see outdoor terraces and cafes overflowing with Dutch people. The Dutch make it happen, because above all, they’ve got their priorities straight. Meetings in stuffy boardrooms are swapped for outdoor rendez-vous, and indoor activities are moved to the fresh air. All hail the mighty sun!
The Dutch you see, are like sunflowers. You’ll find them right now, as we speak, sitting outdoors, chairs turned and faces pointed directly to the sun, bathing in the light. One thing is certain: if the sun is out, so are the Dutch.
I grew up in the sunny Southwestern US were I spent most of my time looking for a patch of shade. After moving to the NL that all changed. One day I was laying in a sunny spot on my bed reading a book. As the sunny patched slowly moved I moved along with it quite unaware that I was doing it until I suddenly realized I slid myself right off the bed and onto the floor just to stay in the sunny spot.
Absoluut! We’re having a spate of Dutch-like weather here right now and I’ve been telling everyone how this is typical where I used to live and they look at me like I was in a prison camp and say things like, “How did you survive?” and, “I couldn’t do it.” I had almost forgotten how such a long spell without the sun makes you feel. I’d still move back to the Netherlands in a heart beat but I can’t say I miss the long, dreary days of winter (spring, early summer…). I do miss seeing everyone, EVERYONE out enjoying the sun when it does finally make an appearance. Such a great shared experience!
There’s the sun and there’s also the heat, and whilst I’m in the camp that loves the weather being over 25c, there’s a large proportion (including my Dutch wife) that go into meltown (no pun intended) as though they’ve been transported to some hellish mangrove in Java and can’t wait for it to be over.
Even when I was in university, some teaching groups would be held outside, in our faculty garden! It is nice to see that this apparently is a very Dutch thing to do!
I am a school art teacher and trying to teach students about international cultures. Can you reply with how to say these 3 words in Dutch?
Yes = Ja
No = Nee
Hello = Hallo
Thank you =dank je wel