Here Comes the Sun

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I am writing this blog old-school style. Longhand, a ballpoint tucked between my thumb and index finger.

Why? Oh, because it’s 23C (74F) degrees outside and it feels like legitimate summer weather. No kidding, I’m wearing shorts and a tank-top because it’s so hot outside.

I’m sure those of you reading in areas where Autumn seems to be nature’s default setting know that mid-seventies can be classified as shorts weather, but I can’t help to draw comparisons to my Florida self; she would be about ready to pull out gloves if the temperature dared dip below 75F.

But, for now, in Holland, I am excited about the good weather. Afraid it won’t last, I’m making the most of it and dragged my laptop, articles, and notes outside and set up a makeshift office on my balcony. This is before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to read the screen, what with all the outside light, hence pen and paper writing.

Much better than a stuffy office!

I suppose, perhaps, that this whole “running-after-the-sun-because-it’ll-be-gone-soon” may sound a little crazy, especially considering graduation is just around the corner and I have a thesis to finish. And realistically speaking, we should get more summery days; it’s only June after all….

Aha, but here’s the thing. The otherwise so down-to-earth Dutch aren’t rational when it comes to weather. Mother Nature might decide that one week of sun is sufficient and give us a rainy and dreary summer. No one is willing to risk missing “summer” so people literally drop everything to be outside once the sun breaks through and the temperature rises.

I grew up with this belief. My mom would go, “oh, the sun is shining. No chores today. We’ll take a bike ride to the park – just give me 10 minutes to pack lunch.” I was not alone in this idyllic kind of childhood. My friends and their moms would be at the park, too.

I’m not sure if this is typically Dutch, because I’m sure that there are families all over the world who do the same; however, I do think this style of living is more ingrained in Dutch culture. People see a little ‘celebration’ in everything, or at least an opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio of an outside café. 

For a country that prides itself for being sensible, it seems like a very poignant, vaguely spiritual decision to make. “Let’s enjoy this now – live in the moment – because we might not get it back”.

I suppose it all has to do with the Dutchman’s search of “gezellig”- it’s the national creed, really the only thing that unites Dutch people.

Gezellig” is hard to describe; it’s more a state of mind than a fixed emotion. It’s cozy and homey and comfortable, but it’s also relaxed and fun. It can’t be forced, it happens organically and is not constricted by time. You just know it when you see it.

This article on gezellig is great. I especially like it for the following example:  

 Friends enjoying a picnic on a canal bank, laughing fondly, sharing a bottle of red wine … this is clearly gezellig. A slob wolfing down fast food as he sprints to a meeting … not so gezellig.

In my family wolfing down fast food in the car is somewhat of a tradition and a treat. To me it’s very gezellig to balance my Coke and McMeal as my dad makes his way through downtown traffic: it’s the ultimate fusion of my Dutch and American selves.

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