The mystery of the forbidden path

in summer •  2 months ago

After an almost continuous heatwave in the Netherlands and most of Europe since the end of June, temperatures returned to normal summer weather today. Let's say goodbye to the heat with pictures from a walk I took at noon last week on Thursday. I didn't sunbathe, which would bore me to tears, sleeping with the windows open was uncomfortable and the office was a hothouse, but this walk was a nice way to enjoy the sunny weather.

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It was 30 degrees Celsius that day (86 degrees Fahrenheit). This photo doesn't really show how hot and humid it was, but it does give an idea of how quiet it was at noon. Animals were hiding, kids were on vacation. Even the highway and railway noises in the background were dimmed. Any noise that broke the silence was a lonely cry rather than part of a cacophony.

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There was some shade from the trees on this ancient dike. But the dried-out ground of the path had become so hard and bumpy that people started walking on the grass, creating a new path to the left. I submitted another picture of this to the subreddit /r/DesirePath, a collection of the shortcuts that people take when they want to go where architects or urban planners didn't expect them to go. The Dutch term for a desire path is 'olifantenpaadje' (small elephant path).

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Then I came upon an unexpected traffic sign for a side path. Why was this closed? I only know this sign from roads that would be dangerous for pedestrians. So I broke the law again and investigated this forbidden place where I wasn't even planning to go otherwise.

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I didn't see any dangerous or vulnerable animals, and the area wasn't tinder-dry either. The path was well-maintained, there was a bench in a bend, with room for people to hang out, two beer bottles in the grass, and a row of blackberry bushes along the path. Was food poisoning the danger they protected us from? I left the blackberries for the birds.

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The path in the shade of the highway fence ended after only two or three hundred meters. The sign at the end said: "Temporarily closed". Well, that wasn't very informational either. I contacted a municipal agency on Twitter today, but they probably went home before 5 PM. Let's enjoy the mystery for a while.

Update: Someone from the neighborhood answered that the path was closed because of the risk of falling trees. Whew, I'm lucky to have escaped alive! :)

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Back in civilization, I ended up walking past the backyards of row houses, which also happens to people walking their dogs, apparently. This sign was unambiguous, although it was written in German.

All in all, walking in the heat for an hour felt fine, even when there was no shade. I wore shorts and I didn't need to bring any water. I felt like this is what homo sapiens evolved to do.

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I do not know the Netherlands, but I imagine it as a place with a lot of water and canals. Your pictures, kind of reflect my imagination.

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That's right. I live in a suburb where the historical polder waterways were left intact. This gives the feeling of living in a natural environment, although it was all man-made and not a lot of area is dedicated to parks. For all but one of these pictures, I could've turned around and looked at houses.