As a Dutch American, I enjoy this aspect of life in the Netherlands and it is something I strive toward in my own suburban lifestyle in America. Riding my bike hasn’t always been something that was second nature.
When we are teens, with little money and no other way to get around, riding our bikes was the only option. it was our key to freedom. Our bike was unsupervised time. If we wanted to go somewhere, we had to ride or walk there. Riding our bikes was easier. And so we rode.
The luxury of a car and greater distances needing to be covered in a shorter amount of time took practicality away from the bike. But I have rediscovered it and now love my time spent on my bike. It still resembles freedom…freedom to spend time traveling in slow motion. It becomes luxurious in a simple sort of way. I stop to chat with a neighbor; I notice the little dog that barks at me as I pass it’s fence; I enjoy the park as I cut through on my way to the store or go to the pool. My favorite trip is to the farmer’s market on Saturday. I attach my grocery bag panniers and basket and take 20 minutes to ride the 3 miles that would otherwise take me 10 by car. I wait all winter for the chance to ride my bike to the market to come home with my panniers overflowing with flowers, bread, peppers, tomatoes and maybe even a large muss melon or watermelon. It is comforting to think that in only a few short months, riding will become a daily thing again.
Right now, we resign our selves to ice skating…a second dutch love. Do we love our skates second only to our bikes? We built our own rink in the backyard again this year. It’s been gloriously cold lately.(7°F)..so cold that we cannot even manage to get ourselves out for a half hour for a few turns on our homemade rink. But the thaw is coming and I am sad for that.
It is February and we will soon have a 4″ pool of water in place of our rink…floating with pine cones and leaves. I am quite possibly the only person in the Midwest who doesn’t want winter to leave. I hate the dreary dingy in between time of March and April. It is the dark, rainy dinginess of the emerging spring when it is too rainy and windy to ride, but not cold enough to skate or ski.
To escape it all we might draw ourselves away…one last getaway to a warmer climate, or perhaps even another shot at winter by traveling someplace cold where we can ski or even skate…one last time….until the season for our bikes begin again.