|climate, weather & culture|
In the following, you will find some quotes from an article in the New York Times from February 2009, with the headline "A rare deep freeze warms the Dutch soul". Please take your time and consider each of the statements thoughtfully. It seems to be a good exercise to find out what we talk about when we talk about the weather and / or climate change.
Having done so, maybe you have some time to go out for a walk. In Hamburg, nearly everybody is out on the frozen Alster lake today - maybe to find out how it feels to be Nordic and to warm their Hamburg soul. Try yourself, wherever you are.
In the 19th century, when Hans Brinker, the hero of the novel in which he tries to win a pair of silver skates, coasted along Holland’s ice, the canals froze almost every year. But water pollution and climate change have made this so rare that today a boy of 15, Brinker’s age, may never have seen a frozen canal, or at least remember one.With an influx of immigrants, the country has been struggling to maintain what it considers its Dutch soul, and Mr. Gustafsson was one of many here who thought the skating experience enabled the Dutch to reconnect with their identity. “There were only Dutch people on the ice,” he went on. “I saw no people of Arab descent.”But André Bonthuis, who has been mayor in this town of 23,000 people for the past 20 years, said he saw Indonesians and Moroccans, among other newcomers to the Netherlands, on the ice. “It’s rather new for people from Morocco,” he said. But he agreed there was something very Dutch about canal skating, which is depicted in paintings by Dutch masters as early as the 17th century.“Water is our friend, and 10 percent of our area is water,” he said. “From the oldest days, in very little villages, people could skate to each other.”Mr. Bonthuis, 59, said he skated with friends recently but also spent a lot of time just skating meditatively alone, leaning slightly forward, arms crossed behind the back. “It’s nice to skate when there is a beautiful view of the fields,” he said. “You see a lot of people skating alone.”Asked whether the skating frenzy had an economic impact, or perhaps had helped the Dutch forget the downturn, he replied: “Everybody took days off.” He added: “A lot of Dutch canceled ski holidays, so that hurt the economy, at least in the ski resorts.”
But over at Haitsma, a big hardware and skating supply store, Henk Haitsma, 62, the owner, was not complaining. His shelves were swept clean. “I sold 3,000 to 4,000 pairs of skates in the last 10 days,” he said. In that time frame he would have sold several hundred in other years.
Oddly, though, the cold swept across only the southern Netherlands and not the north. That mattered because this year is the 100th anniversary of the first race across frozen canals through 11 cities in the north, and it has been repeated every year in the past century when there has been ice.(But maybe this year, in February 2012, the race will be possible again.)