Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sunshine When She's Gone

Do you remember that scene from "Notting Hill" where the Hugh Grant character is walking through the street market? It's kind of an introspective sequence, set to music ("Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone") -- and it's very cleverly staged and executed, with a kind of subtle brilliance.

I used to think that the scene was supposed to represent the passage of time -- summer sunshine blending into autumn's rustling leaves blending into winter's blowing snow blending into spring's flowers and fresh air -- only appearing to be a five-minute walk by the lead character of the film... You know, cinematic devices such as this are not always meant to be interpreted literally.

But today, I remembered that such a five-minute journey is completely realistic -- maybe even likely -- in Northern Europe during early spring.

When I left my house this morning to ride into work, it was a clear and sunny day -- blue skies overhead, songbirds in the trees, and a soft breeze at my back. But within the first kilometer of riding, the skies quickly clouded over to that characteristic Amsterdam gray. Every now and then the sun would peak through a hole in the clouds, and I enjoyed a brief moment of warm sunshine as I stopped along the Wibautstraat, waiting for the light to turn green. But by the time I reached the Amstel (within 100 meters of the Wibautstraat intersection, even), the wind had whipped up in my face and cold sheets of rain were starting to soak my thighs. By the time I reached the Frederickplein, sleet was painfully pelting my forehead. Then, as I swerved past the Rijksmuseum and into the Leidseplein, the sun burst forth again and it was spring once again. Blue skies, songbirds, soft breeze, and everything... And all of this within 10 minutes of riding.

Actually, I kind of enjoy this wrestling match between winter and spring. Such confused days seem to happen every year in the Netherlands, about this time of the year. And to me, they are a sign of power, change, and hope. And while I don't exactly enjoy the feeling of tiny pieces of ice cutting into my scalp as I ride my bicycle, the golden beams of sunshine on the other side of the road make it more than liveable. It's great weather for introspection.


At 4:03 PM, Blogger MichaĆ«l said...

...wrestling match between winter and spring.

I always thought of it as annoying, typical Dutch weather. "Too bad, nothing you can do about it. Get used to it."
This sounds much better. Now it somehow has gotten a purpose.


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