Autumn, to me, is the worst time of the year. Once the colourfull leaves have dropped from the trees, it becomes too gloomy for me. Maybe because it resonates with demise, in the greater perspective of all. And I don't like goodbyes that last for ever. It is the time of the year when the last harvest has been done. Turning our lifes to the inside, the world of thoughts and feelings. Also preparing for a new round in the outside world. Shaping things up again. The symbol of Taiji, 太极, (aka Yin-Yang) seems to fit this perfectly. Autumn is the darkest part of the symbol ☯, winter is where the light dot is, that's where the light returns. Just like midnight is the beginning of a new day. And I'm glad we are at the last month of fall. Winter is coming!
Now why the cheer? Well, winter means there is a chance of ice, ice means a chance of iceskating. And that is a kind of a big thing here in Nederland, aka the Netherlands. It is like a disease, but more the kind one, like a fever that gives off good vibes.
The day when the darkness is present the longest, is a day of celebration for many. It dates back to a long time ago, even before time was invented when people still lived in sync with nature. The longest night is the end of the old wheel cycle and the beginning of the new one. Light is returning, something that resonates with many cultures on earth.
For many cultures on earth the coming of winter is a time of celebration. The light is returning, when winter is here, spring is near. The time when the worlds of demise and the world of birth are close, sometimes is almost too weird to believe. At the day we honoured our grandfather on his last journey, my sister in law told us there was a new family member coming. Strange how these things sometimes seem to be in sync. Tears of sadness, followed by tears of joy.
It is in these times when we turn inside that we seem to remember more the ones we lost. For me there is also a symbolic link to our old shared culture as a human kind. This intertwines with many cultures today. And I find it a bit sad that there are groups of people who seem to have forgotten this old shared knowledgde. As it seems to be the basic connection we have as humanity, it even returnes in many religions. It can be found in the symbolic returning of the light. So there is more common ground for us as a human kind, than we might have ever thought excisted.
So, is the title of this post misleading? No, because with winter coming, a more dry air is arriving, helping me overcome my cold better, at least. Also frost, sub zero temperatures, could mean ice. And that could mean iceskating. It is part of the cultural tradition here in Nederland. The first skates where made from animal bones, but today we do not use those that much anymore. Yes, we too have evolved.
Because I dislike darkness taking away the light of the day, I look forward to the returning of the sun. And winter is the time when that happens. The 21st of december, party time, that is the old year leaving and a new year beginning on the 22nd. But we celebrate it ten days later, for some reason. And there is another reason for happiness, ice skating, if we are lucky, that is. While there are ice skate tracks under a roof, for many they are considered artificial. It is not the real thing, going on an oval track of 400 meters, until you have done about 25 rounds and call it a day.
No, for the real lover of ice skating, it is the real thing, the one that mother nature gives us, if we do not put to many shait in our water, that is. So, when winter comes many here are getting their ice skates sharpened, ready to go, when the time is right. Most of us even prefer the tracks outside where there is natural ice, even on an oval track of 400 meter. Not to speed skate, but just to enjoy it. Being outside, with other people, having a good time.
It can be considered a kind of addicition, I guess. Keeping an eye on the weather forecasts, will it get sub minus 10 degrees celcius? The wind that needs to come from the east. Because when it comes from the west, it means mostly wind, dark clouds and rain. And that is bad for my mood. And when it gets to that minus 15 degrees celcius, I almost know for sure that it is going to happen. When I was very young I even slept with my ice skates on, once. They were the real ones the adults had, I was looking forward to ice skate just like them. (It turned out it wasn't that easy, by the way...)
In 2012 we had the luck that lake Oldambt got frozen with a big layer of ice. And a good friend of mine was looking forward to take the tour, like many others. We teamed up and went early in the morning to the north of our home-town Winschoten, in the municipal of Oldambt, near the village of Beerta. That's where the lake Oldambt tour started. It was minus 15 degrees celcius and the wind made it feel even colder. But the excitement and warm clothing gave us quite a boost. This was it, doing rounds of 20 kilometers, ice skating over the lake. Hearing the sharpened irons scratching it's way unerneath me. It is so in the here and now. Making long strokes, sliding forward, through a beautifull winter landscape.
If there is one thing that unites us here in Nederland, aka the Netherlands, then it is ice skating, the season of winter, when mother nature gives us ice to skate on. There is not much that can beat this on a sunny winters day, sliding over the ice layered on top of lake Oldambt. That day in 2012 we managed two rounds. The wind took on really bad and it blew us almost backwards on the last piece of the track but we made it. And my smile almost must have been frozen in. This was such a grand happening, giving a huge natural high.
And while it is getting colder here, while the last month of autumn darkness started, I'm looking forward to leaving the old year behind and celebrate the new one coming. Hopefully with a winter where there can be ice skated on the beautifull frosted ice outside, delivered by mother nature.
Have a good new Yule tide!
photos cc-by-sa @oaldamster
- 50/50 payout post