Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Road to Durgerdam

You can take the boy out of the country -- but you can't take the country out of the boy. Or so I've heard. And so, in fact, I've come to believe as I've observed the inexplicable refreshment in my own life that comes from casual time spent in quiet, open spaces.

I know it sounds strange and somewhat incomprehensible, but I genuinely believe that the biggest adjustment over the last four years -- moving from Bowling Green, Ohio, United States of America to Amsterdam, Noord Holland, Nederland -- has not been the shift from American culture to Dutch culture, but rather the shift from small town life to big city life. To be certain, there are advantages to urban living and we've genuinely enjoyed opportunities that the city brings... But truthfully we've never quite been able to "get over" our love for the quiet, the privacy, the simplicity, the freedom, the openness, the color, and the freshness of the countryside. And as green and quaint and charming as the city of Amsterdam may be (in comparison with other cities of the world), the fact remains that we live among hundreds of thousands of people, in close physical proximity that can often be claustrophobic.

Thus, it was a great refreshment for our family to load up our bicycles and pedal from our home in Amsterdam through the eastern neighborhoods of the city, past the urban sprawl, over the IJ river, outside of the A10 ringway, and into the fresh, green countryside of Noord Holland this afternoon. It was amazing that in just 30 minutes of casually-paced riding, we were able to breathe deeply, soak in the sunshine, bleat with the sheep, feed clover to the ponies, and enjoy the countryside. We rode from Amsterdam to the tiny village of Ransdorp, to the lakeside settlement of Durgerdam, and back to Amsterdam... It was a three hour circuit in all (including time for a number of stops to look at animals, take drinks, eat snacks, and so on). And we were reminded -- like with anything atypical yet so refreshing -- that we need to do things like this more often.

It was... magnificent.

The country may never fully leave the boy -- regardless of his geographic setting -- but I desperately hope that the boy will never have to fully adandon the countryside.


At 3:37 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I have felt the same thing in my life. I need to experience nature to feel alive and to refresh my heart of worship.
Saint Paul had great parks and forests just beyond its reaches. Even Chicago had easy access to farms and countryside. But Texas.... Even when you get out of the Metroplex it seems less than inviting. It's not like it's desert, but it's not the country that I'm used to from up north.
But maybe that's my current crabbiness talking. It's just so darn hot.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger MichaĆ«l said...

Yeah Eric, the fields above above Amsterdam are beautifull. Not only around Durgerdam but also a bit more to the west, near Landsmeer, Oostzaan and Den Ilp. Please come visit us there from January next year (or so)!
Yes, this means that we've (almost) bought the house we've been looking into.


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