On January 3rd, the Dutchman, the girl child, and I will board a plane and fly to Amsterdam for six months. Six months! Our daughter, a high-school sophomore, is doing her second semester at an international school there, and we are going to follow.
It’s quite possibly the worst time of the year to go to the Netherlands. The weather will be atrocious—cold and gloomy and wet—and our main mode of transportation will be a bike. Winter storms are frequent and frequently violent, and I’ve watched more than one person be blown—literally—off theirs. And because of Holland’s location just south of the North pole, the first few months of the year it’s hardly ever light. You go to work and it’s dark. You come home and it’s dark. Your vitamin-D window is only a handful of hours at best, and even then the sun is usually hidden behind a thick layer of low-hanging clouds.
Are we crazy? Probably. But it’s partly because of all those reasons that I’m so excited to go. The Dutch have a word for this season—donkere dagen, or dark days—and they “celebrate” it by holing up in their homes with roaring fires and flickering candles, good food and better friends. I don’t know about you, but after the craziness of the holiday season, that sounds like heaven to me.
And inevitably, always, after winter comes spring.