Monday, January 11, 2010

Dutch passion


When it is winter and the temperature falls below the freezing point, the Dutch become restless: will it be possible or will it not? And yes, this year we can do it again, and I could do it again, too: skating. Of course, we can skate a big part of the year round on rinks with artificial ice, but skating on natural ice is something different. Skating on natural ice means skating on little or large lakes, on ponds, ditches and canals. Marvellous and extended spaces open for you once you can move on the ice. Places where you never come when the water is not frozen, even not by boat. Nature reserves normally closed to the public are now areas where it is free to skate. No one can stop a Dutch skater, certainly not the owner of a nature reserve, so the only solution then is to open these areas to the public.
In the past, when cars and trains still had to be invented, skating was not only a joy to do, as can be seen on the paintings by old Dutch masters. It was also practical. Normally, the only way to go somewhere was by foot, by horse or by coach or cart. And because many people did not have much money, most went by foot. But when there was ice, people could travel long distances within a short time. Some people skated even up to 200 km on one day. It was a good occasion to visit relatives that did not live in your town or village. But today skating has become a pure pleasure and a sport or both at the same time.
Last Monday, when I made my first gliding strides of this winter on a mere not far from my home (yes, it is a nature reserve, normally closed to the public), I was thinking about my blog. For hadn’t I been there on the ice, I should have sat behind my laptop writing down my next thoughts for the world. What should I write about? That Descartes saw the body as a machine, but that, after a year without skating, it is quite difficult to control this human machine on the ice and making the perfect strides? Or should I write something about “mens sana in corpore sano”, a healthy mind in a healthy body, and how in my life both come together, I hope? Or relate my activity to the meaning of sport for philosophers like Socrates and Plato? However, if I would do that, in a certain sense it would not be true. I mean, of course, it would be true, but in fact it would have nothing to do with my skating and in general with the skating of the Dutch. For even although it would be an interesting and useful explanation or framing of it, it would have nothing to do with what this skating really stands for, for skating is simply a Dutch passion.

1 comment:

Luzdeana said...

Hi, Henk!
I can see you've made it again! So this year you've been enjoying your Dutch passion.... how nice. I've already got pics of that lovely frozen lake!
It was interesting to learn about skating as a means of faster transport in the past. I'd never heard about those long trips on a pair of skates.
Have a good week!