We’re in the midst of a hard freeze here in Ohio. For the past two weeks, we haven’t gotten more than a degree or two above freezing — and even those “spikes” in temperature were only for the briefest stretches when a new weather system was passing through. They say that this upcoming week will be the coldest yet. So we’re taking advantage of it. Recently, we’ve been particularly excited about ice-skating.
Olivia, Cor, and I spent an hour-and-a-half in the freezing cold today — but we almost didn’t feel the cold because we were having so much fun. It was especially enjoyable because we got to use the part of nearby West Branch State Park that we almost never get to use: the surface of the lake itself! Some parts of the ice were pretty bumpy. Other parts were as smooth as glass. All of it, however, was splendidly, surprisingly, super-solid. Probably an average of about six inches thick.
Conditions like these don’t come along every winter in Ohio, so we’re making the most of the opportunity presented to us by this particularly cold (and uninterrupted) stretch of freezing temperatures.
Flash-Back to 2012
Our current hard freeze has reminded me of another time, in 2012, when our family got to experience a similar cold spell. In Amsterdam. I wrote about it as “A Classic Dutch Winter” back at the time. But honestly, the fairy-tale quality of that winter has only increased, as the years have passed and our family has resettled on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Some of the pictures that I featured on my blog and social media accounts back in those days are still stunning. They capture a unique moment in our family’s history that’s crystallized (if you’ll pardon the pun) in our collective memory. And they also show just how much Dutch people love the chance to ice-skate on the canals. Even though it doesn’t happen nearly as often as you might think.
I went back to look through all the different pictures that I took back in 2012. And other pictures jumped out at me in different ways that apparently didn’t grab me at the time. Like the night-time image above, catching the back side of the crowd cheering on the famous Keizersrace in the heart of old Amsterdam.
Or the closer shot of the crowds on the Herengracht, capturing details almost like one might see in an old Averkamp painting.
I found this picture of children crowding a bicycle-lined bridge to be especially charming.
And I loved to see the photos of itty-bitty Cor and Elliot playing ice-hockey with our friends Luke and Jim Poorman, who happened to be visiting at the time. They also brought us the skates that we still use today!
Another photograph shows a canal in our old neighborhood in Amsterdam Oost. A Dutch man carefully shovels off the surface of the ice to make it ready for skating. I learned a lot from the Dutch about how to foster the right conditions for ice development and skating!
The Dutch “Koek & Zopie” was kind of like a summertime lemonade stand in Ohio. It served up warm drinks and snacks to keep skaters energized.
Our kids were especially fond of the Belgian waffles. (Olivia was playing over at a friend’s house on the day that we took a lot of our best pictures).
I’m really glad that we had all of those experiences in Amsterdam. But I’m also glad that we get to have the experiences that we’re having now in Ohio!