Achter de Wolken Schijnt de Zon

| Life in Holland | 0 Comments

So what's so interesting about the weather? It's not what one would consider the most fascinating subject to write about. However, when it comes to "Het weer" as Dutch folks call it, the topic takes on new dimensions of excitement. If you plan on visiting this fine country, living here for awhile or you are just passing through, there's some important weather details you should know about ahead of time. Please hang on to your "Paraplu" (more about this later).

In the good old days before the effects of global warming wrecked the climate, weather in Holland was fairly predictable. As expected, you had the usual four seasons, each one with it's own particular character. You only had to look outside to see which season it was without having to refer to your smartphone. During the spring it rained much of the time, the summers were pleasant, and the winter was cold and it snowed often. The very famous "Elfstedentocht" would take place when the ice was thick enough.

Turn back the clock to 1980 when I first came here with my backpack and book "Let's Go to Europe on $5 a Day." Born and raised in sunny California, I was accustomed to calm and predictable weather. My mind and body had never been challenged by the inclement fantasies of mother nature. In fact, I was so spoiled that when the first raindrops hit the window pane, I fell into a deep depression. If there were too many clouds obscuring the sun rays, I became quite irritable, fearing I'd lose that beach-boy tan I'd spent days working on at the beach.

Imagine the shock my mind and body received upon experiencing my first winter in The Netherlands. That was back in my post hippie days, so walking around in leather sandals and wearing only a flimsy tie-dye shirt didn't work out well. Especially when my ears started pounding and my fingers froze off. I wondered: how could western civilization ever have migrated so far north, leaving the balmy warm beaches of the Mediterranean, for this? It was all about freedom back then, and a drastic drop in temperature was not enough to keep those seekers of truth from coming north. During the Dutch Golden Era this area of Europe was a sanctuary where the right to free and creative expression formed the core of the new society. Who could then care less about the weather?

In the glory days of 1980 the weather was a predictable cycle from warm to cool to cold to warm again. The advice was simple: buy a thick coat for winter, light clothes for the summer and two umbrellas in case it rains. Why two umbrellas? Think about what makes Holland famous: windmills! These amazing mechanical works of art use the wind to generate lots of energy. There is lots of wind in Holland, and it can blow as hard as "Stormkracht 10" or more. Your poor umbrella is inverted and mangled to pieces. An extra umbrella will definitely come in handy some day.

This applies equally well today, fast forward back to the present. As far as the two umbrella principle is concerned, better make it three just in case. Due to the climate changes, storms have taken on a more sinister expression. Mother nature's mood can become quite inclement, she's upset and wants to punish us for our bad deeds. So have yet another extra aerodynamic umbrella on hand, one shaped like the wing of a supersonic jet: the senz umbrella. Naturally, this newfangled contraption was invented by a Dutch person. You can purchase one at every street corner the whole year round.

Remember the predictable cycle of yearly seasons we used to have? Well, that has all changed now. In winter it never freezes any more and there hasn't been an "Elfstedentocht" since 1997. In general the winter temperature is lower than in summer, so keep that thick coat on hand just in case. Then there are the summer heat waves. On the first day, all your neighbors will rush to the balcony and get sunning. Then afterwards you will boil two to three weeks at a time. Unlike other civilized countries, houses here do not have air-conditioning for some mysterious reason. An extra umbrella will not help very much.

A good old Dutch heatwave is the time to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful surroundings here. There is so much green nature, and all that water reflecting the sunlight in your face. I feel that beach boy tan coming back and it feels pretty good. Time to put on that tie-die shirt again. Whatever the weather may be, no matter how bad it gets, never forget that good old Dutch saying: "Achter de wolken schijnt de zon."

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2345 entries and as many as 1877 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.