Friday, February 10, 2012

City ice, Country ice

Maastricht 2-13 snow 32Seattle, Cambridge, Maastricht: the language changes but the weather doesn’t.  Still, there was frozen mist in Cambridge and fresh snow in Maastricht, a contrast in the way that it set the scene for the day.  I think that snow and ice is generally more beautiful on trees than on buildings.



‘probably a Jeremiah Johnson gene somewhere…

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Random bits of Dutch news

Winter seems to bring out the strange stories:

“Crop circles” have appeared in the snow on ponds outside Arnhem’s WaterMuseum.  This caught my eye because I used to live a few blocks from the park – the meteorologist can’t explain it; the locals swear that they have nothing to do with it.  (The Gelderlander)

It’s actually a big open space outside the city ring road near the train station, no unusual wind patterns that might create a  microburst that cleared the surface or trees to shield the way the sun strikes the surface.  and beneath, well, it’s ice: there’s nothing to melt the snow.  I’m out of theories.

sneeuwcirkels 1 rondevanarnhem 1

80% of Netherlanders would vote Democratic if given a choice for president.  (The Volkskrant)

I’ve been thinking about this one for a couple of weeks.  It’s not surprising given the generally liberal politics of the Dutch, and I’m sure the Republicans baffle everyone in Europe.  Still, with the rising concerns about immigration policy, the European monetary crisis, and disenchantment with Pres. Obama, I would have expected this number to soften.

It’s interesting that the religious division between Republican and Democrat is most notable to a Dutch writer – all American politicians are quick to declare themselves Christians and to label the Bible among their favorite books, so it doesn’t distinguish politicians for us.

And I do like the quote “Je kunt uitleggen wat je wilt over Amerika, maar dan nog zullen Nederlanders voor 80 procent de voorkeur geven aan een Democraat. Niet omdat ze het niet begrijpen of omdat ze vooringenomen zijn, maar omdat ze Nederlander zijn.”  You can say what you want about America, but 80 percent of Dutch will prefer a Democrat. Not because they do not understand or because they are biased, but because they are Dutch.

I also smile when they call Gingrich the comeback-opa.


Of course, no week in Dutch news would be complete without an article about Dutch women. (Amsterdam Magazine)

Of course, as a father-of-daughter, I have a slightly different take on this.   Strong confident, good fashion sense, loves a debate: isn’t this what we wish for our offspring?

Groot I can’t help with. Oranje, maybe…


And I couldn’t end without an economic story, especially if it ties into Carnivale.  (De Limburger)

Carnaval kost Maastricht elk jaar zo'n 114.000 euro.

And worth every stuiver.  The fun begins next week.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Bij schemering

spider webJeremy sighed, rubbing his nose absently.  Weet u of jij naar het museum komt? 

Why do you bother, asked the spider.

“Permanent residency, personal challenge, fitting in?”

You never will, you know.

Jeremy looked up from his exercises, curious. “Of course I can.”

Suppose you succeed at all of…this,  asked the spider, waving two legs toward the text.

Will you ever be part of conversations?

Will you ever understand a talk at the university?

Will you ever be more than a visitor?

“Of course I can”, Jeremy repeated, with a touch less confidence.

Or will you only ever be the old fellow drinking alone at the end of the bar?

Jeremy fell silent, thinking.  Weet jij (waar / of / wie) wij zijn. “Perhaps Hemingway,”  he suggested.

A snort.

Jeremy shook his head, “You never know.  Life is strange.”

Compared to what, smiled the spider.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snowy day in Cambridge

Open a fridge door in the Netherlands and everybody starts bleating about an Elfstedentocht.  -- Gerard Joling

Winter came a week later to Cambridge – snow arrived last night and accumulated to about four inches this morning.  I really enjoy the glaze that it puts onto the University’s gothic buildings, the utter blackness of the River Cam against the snow.  Nobody put on Nordic skis and took off down the streets as would be the norm in Boston or Chicago, but Cambridge has lots of winter charms of its own.

But without ice skates, regrettably.