5 Januaries

My first January in Amsterdam I had nothing to do but wait for my ‘verblijfsvergunning’, (residence permit) so spent the days walking and exploring. It snowed, quite a bit, and to someone from a country where it doesn’t snow in everyday-situations, only on special-trips-to-mountains-especially-reserved-for-snow, having snow on pavements and bridges, cars and bikes, your hat and your nose, was pretty special.

By my second January in Amsterdam I had my permit (but only just!) and had started work and thus discovered cycling-to-work-in-the-snow-wrapped-in-a-flock-of-woolens. I also discovered ice, quickly followed by what-the-road-feels-like, what salt is used for and why you should sleep in and let all the other cyclists go first.

My third January in Amsterdam I was a dab hand and only briefly glanced at the RAI thermometer and it’s -11C reading as I whizzed past on my bike. Riding home I loved the sudden silence descending with a snow-storm as I was transformed into a cycling snowman and the road underneath me from a greasy wet black to a crisp crunchy white where my wheels were the first to leave tracks.

My fourth January in Amsterdam I wrapped our new son Jacob up in five layers of clothing and two blankets and a jacket and took him out in the pram and wondered if he could see the snow yet.

So now in my fifth January in Amsterdam I was just a bit startled to discover crocuses (croci?) in the Sarphati Park and blossom on the trees in the Vondelpark! And no sign of snow at all. Looks like we won’t be getting a chance to buy that little wooden sleigh for Jacob after all.

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