It’s easy to complain about the cold (we’ve been down to -18F in Chicago today). But, I just read in the New York Times that the canals have frozen in the Netherlands for the first time in 12 years. This is a very big deal for the Dutch, who think of skating, according to the story, as “part of our soul.”
I’m thrilled for the Dutch, who have rushed out by the hundreds of thousands to skate on the canals, an old national tradition. Older Dutch are euphoric to relive their childhood memories. For many children, of course, this is a new experience. I imagine how happy, how full of wonder and surprise they must be to see their parents and their grandparents bursting with childlike excitement. How great to learn to be a child from your elders.
Just this morning I told friends that I have never really minded the bitter cold, at least on a sunny day, but that I don’t love it as much since I stopped having the chance to skate outside. And now I’m reading about a country able to skate outside, in spite of water pollution, in spite of global warming.
Can’t you imagine it, the wind pushing freezing tears from the corners of your eyes, your skates ripping into the hard, rough ice, the warmth returning to your feet in your skates as you work your legs and arms. If you are lucky, you hold a small child in front of you with both hands, feeling him feel the ice, the startling lack of friction and weight, as you glide untethered away from shore.
God bless winter.