Saturday, July 17, 2010

Biking to the Strand

Another week has passed us by so quickly. Walt has returned from a trip to the States. The weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny. We’ve been quick to take advantage of the sun. Many of our compatriots here have warned there may only be rain or drizzle for weeks at a time. When the weather is beautiful everyone is outside.

Sunday was gorgeous. The temperature may have hit 80. There were a few scattered clouds in an azure blue sky. We biked to the beach.

There is a path that climbs the dunes just for bikes, pedestrians, and horses. Usually the biggest hill I climb here is the dremples ,or speed bumps, along the road. The dunes, on the other hand, is a battery of large sand hills a mile or more deep approaching the sea. They are wild and windy and beautiful. The fietspad, or bike path, to the sea winds its way among the dunes. It is thick with the smell of wild roses, and sea, and horses.

We rode as a family to the beach: the girls in the tag-along, Jack on his new bike. The bike path was crowded with traffic. Bikes carrying every size of people, beach bags, surf boards, and soccer balls massed ahead and behind us. Horses outfitted with wide-tired beach surries trotted past. It was a Dutch celebration of the sun.

The beach was crowded. The restaurant stands were full. Children, tinged with pink, played naked in the sun. My children dug in the sand with new shovels, looking for hermit crabs or maybe China. Jordan swam like a polar bear. Jack made a volcano from sand. Audrey ran up and down the tidal pool yelling, “I run! I run!”

After only an hour, it was time to go. Jordan was unable to get warm after swimming in the water, the first sign of the kidney infection brewing inside of her. We pedaled home with the wind at our backs. The girls slept in their bike carriage. After only 20 minutes, we were home.

Jordan is recovering from her kidney infection. Our second experience with socialized health care was a good one. Each hospital has a “night doctor”, or family doctor who sees those in need during the night. He was quick to order Jordan the necessary medicine and write letters to our personal physician. Although she had fevers through the night again last night, today she is eating a little and fighting with her sister, surely a good sign.

Jack was off to a birthday party at a water park on Saturday. The birthday invite list was a mini United Nations: the seven children represented five countries and three continents. The water park was a blast and we heard detailed descriptions of each slide for most of the rest of the weekend.

Audrey and Jack and I went to a local goat farm yesterday with our neighbors, the Adkins. There were stalls full of baby goats with which the children were welcome to climb in and play. They had little bottles of warm milk to feed them. Audrey was in heaven. The farm also offered row boat rentals on the canal. In true Dutch style, they offered no life jackets and cared not how many people we piled into their little boat. They had a little shop which offered free range eggs and a selection of fresh and aged goat cheese. In a freezer in the corner they offered lamb chops and lamb roasts. I’m glad Jack didn’t ask too many questions.

Today, in an effort to give the girls some fresh air and sunshine, we biked again to the beach. I took some pictures to post here. We came home again and were back within the hour.

Now I struggle to get Audrey down for a nap. Jordan is up sleeping in my bed. It is time to clean up the breakfast dishes still piled in my sink before the little tiny ants carry them off.

Love to all of you back home. I send a special hug and kiss out to my mother, sitting in Abington Hospital after an unexpected fall. I’ve never felt so far away as I do now. I’ll be home soon!

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