People are skating everywhere across the Netherlands. Each little park pond we pass has kids and adults alike clicking away on the ice. This past Wednesday, my professor was so excited about the idea, she made a separate discussion board online for students to upload their skating pictures. The internationals shrugged. The Dutch waited by the door with their skates.
I have never really been into the idea myself. All I remember about skating from my youth is being cold, hurting my tailbone in a fall, and preferring to wait inside where there were those little fake marshmallows in hot chocolate packets. I’m not a winter sports lady, aside from a few blizzard walks.
But skating is ingrained in the Dutch psyche. My husband could talk about the nuances of ice for hours – what makes it strong and what is not safe. What different cracks mean and what sounds are good. He joyously puts long sharp knife blades on his feet and risks his life for fun, an ice pick always around his neck in case he falls in. He was on his first pair of skates at a very young age; I imagine the same age as he was on his first bike. Each little Dutch human taking on both land and sea (water, actually) in a fully adult fashion. This is still what impresses me most about growing up here. The level of trust to do things I am still afraid of at thirty five.
I suppose there is something liberating about being out there in the quiet, just listening to the sound of the ice creak under your feet and into the distance. After ten years together, I have sure seen plenty of videos of the process. For a country that can’t seem to manage snow very well, they certainly love their ice. Yesterday, in our town, there was even a band playing outside as people skated around the human shaped hole in the ice by our house. I held the skating bag, waiting at a distance and waving from my safe spot on land. Makes me smile though, still. The sound of a country celebrating something they love.