This has been one of those weeks; back from Thanksgiving week, and immediately into a spin with work, evening meetings and activities, struggles to get out of bed in the morning, struggles to fall asleep at night. No airport lounge or comfortable seat makes a nine hour time difference easy (I'm avoiding Melatonin this time around).
Conversational Dutch was hopeless last night: my head just wasn't into it and my ears and mouth wouldn't come together. It's a bit like the "Wednesday lows" with the nuns in Vught. After a few days of language immersion, your brain goes into vapor lock: they ask a simple question, and you go through the mental steps of parsing the question, finding the verb at the end of the sentence, deciding an answer, finding the vocabulary, checking the verbs, ordering the time-manner-place, checking the pronunciation, oh, and what was the question again...? By Thursday, you're over it, but there is a point where your mind can't hold it all any more.
Anyway, that wasn't what I wanted to write about :)
It's the Dutch and their dogs.
The Dutch are an delightfully orderly, logical, and tidy group. Their stores are clean, well lit, easy to navigate. Their homes are warm, full of art and books, flowers on the table, conversation at the ready. They are precise in arriving at work, leaving work, doing a job right, and keeping a good balance in life. They dote on their children.
But for some reason, they are absolutely unable to clean up after their dogs.
Invariably, on a night when I'm tired and late, I hit one of the many deposits left on sidewalks, curbs, and edging. I don't realize it until I'm in the apartment and get the lights on, so when I turn around, there's a nice brown heel-trail following up the stairs, around the foyer, and to the kitchen. I brought American spray carpet cleaner, but it's an hour of squirt, scrub, wait, vacuum.
My Dutch friends have assured me that attitudes are changing, and people are becoming more aware that they should clean up after their pets. It's still a surprising omission of Dutch etiquette, especially in light of the pride that they otherwise take in their homes and neighborhoods. And change, in this example, can't come too soon...