Monday, January 03, 2011

The Jaarwisseling

At Kinderdijk, Netherlands, on Christmas day 2010.

My favorite Dutch word of this last week has been jaarwisseling (yar-VIS-sel-ing):
jaar = year; wisseling = changing...and thus, changing of the year.
Changing, rotating, turning...crossing over? Perhaps, like at this Kinderdijk bridge.

I pray all of you have had a great jaarwisseling!

While out-n-about the last days of 2010, I loved seeing Gorinchem, our city, in the snow. While we had a tad of snow the previous year, it wasn't anything like this:

For a country that has the highest population of bikes per capita, models are everywhere.
All of these were within a block from our apartment.

A year ago I took the top photo of this art sculpture on our nearby Melkstraat (Milk Street).
Look at how it has changed with a bit of snow a year later.
You know what you get when you mix milk and snow, right? I recall friends making ice cream in the old churn when I was a wee girl, adding in fresh snow. Memories that stick like snow wads on the wall.

Our city's Stadhuis (City Hall) is where I registered a year ago to become officially part of Gorinchem by getting my equivalent of a Dutch social security number (BSN). From there I was able to start my resident-permit application for staying in Holland. This is also where Astrid and I were married on 5 February last year. Everything is now coming back full circle...with snow added, as frosting on the cake.

Twice a month I walk back-n-forth to the bank where I take money out of my stateside account and deposit it into my Dutch account. I'm not always happy with the conversion rate (right now €1 = $1.34) but when I first came a year ago, it was horrendous, at €1 = $1.56. I just grit my teeth and bear it. I pass these willows every time and breath a bit deeper. In the total scheme of things, I have much for which to be thankful!

We did indeed bring in the New Year with our fellow senior neighbors here at our living complex. We were in bed by 1 a.m. because of getting up the next day to drive to Den Bosch for a day with The Girlfriends. As we went to get our car out of the garage, look what we saw: both self-service parking-ticket machines were boarded up. Astrid says they do that on New Year's Eve so no one will tape fireworks to them and blow them up. It so happens that New Year's Eve is the one day of the year here in Holland, during very specific hours, when both public AND private displays of fireworks can be set off. Mailbox openings are closed, anything into which a firecracker can be tossed...everything possible is secured.

What a mess! Now the clean-up begins.
As I recall from last year, it took several weeks before all the residue was gone.

Speaking of gone, after several days of above-freezing temps, all our snow is now gone. At least we had a White Christmas! But winter is not over yet. Astrid says the hardest winter days are typically the end of January and the beginning of February...even though we've seen many fresh molehills. Doesn't that mean spring will be early?

Don't you love how the whole year is now before us once again and the sky is the limit! The jaarwisseling is full of pomp and circumstance...full of promise. Let's all grab it by the tail and see where it takes us, one day at a time.

Good-Bye 2010. Hello 2011


  1. This is a wonderful overview of the last month with all the snow and ice.
    You saw some great things.
    I love the pictures, it shows the 'nice' circumstances of having snow and ice :)
    We will take it one day at the time and enjoy it.
    If we have in 2011 only half of what we had in 2010, I am more then happy!

  2. Happy New Year! I am always a bit of sceptical when it comes to celebrating that one year is passing and the second is beginning (one year more...) but I see you are optimistic (from the last sentense) so I will not spoil the atmosphere:)

    No wonder you love the view with the willows - it's super

  3. That is a beautiful word. I'd love to hear you say it.

    Love the photos of New Year's detritus.

    Our snow is gone too. Saturday at the cottage began warm, in the 50s, and ended cold, in the 20s!

  4. Astrid: You are so right about 2010. If 2011 is half as joyous, it will be another great year! Look at how lucky we were to have a White Christmas, now that the snow is gone. I wonder if we'll get more? If not, we definitely had it when it counted. And now we're off-n-running. I love that we now have our second year in front of us. They say you get all the tools you need in your first year of marriage to figure out how to make your marriage last. I believe in that...and us! Hartstikke bedankt!

    Ola: There's something about feeling we have a new slate opened before us that's encouraging and exciting. Just call me the eternal optimist! :)

    Ruth: The word reminds me of "Here we come a wassailing" and thrills me to no end. One day you'll hear it. It's now one of my best words ever. I do hope we'll hear and see something about the family weekend from somebody...if not you? Maybe I'll hear from Amy....

  5. what a great post for the new year. We have so many icicles here right now because of our cold weather, and I just love your bike photos of that.

    Wish I had some pics to share but maybe I can find one or two in there... :)

  6. Oh snowy holidays, can't get any better than that.

    Let's all have a brighter, happier, and healthier 2011. Hugs and kisses to you both.

  7. Clearly, you have had a pretty snow whereas here the snow came down and immediately blew off the trees, no nice icicles, no snow-lines branches, nothing but pretty drifts that turned gray as soon as the plows came through.

    Your bike shots are wonderful and your willows and that sculpture turned to ice cream which I am not allowed to eat. ...and, of course, another windmill.

  8. ET: Icicles are fun but we don't see many of them here. When we do, I grab them. The bikes are always fun to see in all kinds of weather.

    PC: Like in California, we really don't get that much snow here in middle Holland, Maria, so when we got what we did, it was a big deal. I wonder if we'll get any more? You, too, have the best of years to come.

    Ted: You can tell by now that I just love this country! The snow was a big surprise for middle Holland. If we get any more this season, we'll have the second blessing! :)

  9. Happy New Year! We had snow, too, the day after Christmas - about 8 inches and high winds - it postponed one of our Christmas family get-togethers.

  10. I just love the ice cycles on the bicycles - that would be one cold ride! :) Happy New Year ... I was asleep by 12:30 - went to put the little guy down and never made it back to the party. (just to clarify, when I say "the little guy"... I'm referring to my 3 year old son.

    Ha Ha. Happy New Year. :)

  11. Tim: So glad you got snow but so sorry it postponed the get-together, unless you all were more excited about the snow?! :) You can always get together later, right?!

    Margaret: I pretty much assumed you meant your 3-yr-old. :D That's funny. We had a get-together the next day and went to bed early, early as possible after the clock struck midnight, that is. HA, indeed.

  12. I don’t think I would ever get tired looking at your beautiful picture of the windmill under the snow. Your picture of the willow trees is hypnotic and it you keep looking at it without blinking the trees start to move – no kidding.

    A New Year, just like a new page on which to write, is always something to look forward to – many new books to read, music to listen to, photos to take, trips to start and all of it with as many laughs as possible. Life is good! Bonne Année!

  13. My new year has not started auspiciously... have been suffering from a bug (probably flu) since the 2nd and dragging myself through the days... Decided tonight to give myself a treat before bedtime and visit your blog!

    Reading what you write to go with your images always cheers me no end... there is such joy on these pages! And the photos are beautiful... LOVE the ones with the bicycles covered in ice/snow, the willows and the bridge with the windmill leading off the post. (nothing new on my blog except your lovely comments... hope to get something posted before the end of the week but am mostly resting a lot) Wishing you and Astrid the happiest of New Year's greetings! :-)

  14. Vagabonde: Snow changes everything, doesn't it! Windmills are always magical to me but adding snow is just frosting on the cake. We were so lucky. It's all melted by now and who knows if we'll get more this winter. But it's enough we had it for Christmas.

    I love the feeling of a clean slate every new year. I'm one for whom the key calendar dates are like pegs on which to hang a year. I need that kind of structure. I'm hopeful we'll all have many rich treasures for 2011!

    Victoria: I hate it for you that you've not been well. Maybe your body needed you to slow down? Please pamper yourself and take your time. You've got the rest of the year before you.

    You are always so encouraging and up-building. Thank you. I'm glad our images inspire each other! HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours.

  15. hi there, for once i get to do a bit of blog 'surfing'. quiet here today in the office. i love your picture of the tree-lined snowy avenue...a world away from my view today: hot sun, green fields, monkeys in the trees! major rioting going on in arusha though, yesterday and today - opposition party clashing with riot police...on the news already after two people shot and killed yesterday. staying quietly put out here in usa river i can tell you! was meant to go to town, but have cancelled and with the time saved i have free time to 'surf' :) - hope all good with you.

  16. Eliza: What a treat to find you here on my blog during a break for you. I don't like the reason for your break but I do like that you've been able to surf a bit. Thank you for finding me here!

  17. Happy New Year! Jaarwisseling in German is Jahreswechsel - very similar.

    Love the snow photos. Europe certainly got hit this winter, didn't it. We had tons of the white stuff.

    I KNOW that 2011 will be a great year for you. How could it not be with all that joy and energy going on?

  18. How atonishing that the Dutch - who I think of as being very Canadian in their law-abiding and respectful nature - being!! This was a gem of information, about the potential for blown-up mailboxes etc and I will never look at a Dutch person in quite the same way again. But is it mostly young males who do this stuff, therefore not really part of the national psyche??

    Wonderful photos, especialy the willows, which I loved. As the weather here in Western Canada heads back into the deep freeze, I get a bit grumpy. Winter is OK and even fun as long as its not toooooo cold. But at least at -20, it's a DRY cold, not like yours!

    A belated Happy New Year to you both, Ginnie and Astrid. ,May you continue to enjoy and build on what you have together.

  19. Christina: I had a feeling German would be similar to Dutch in this case. Makes sense to me. I wonder if your snow is all gone now, like ours? And will Europe get another deluge, I wonder? Astrid says YES. I won't mind at all. I love the snow. Thanks for believing in us and for your wonderful optimism. I love it.

    Deborah: I actually like the comparison between the Canadians and the Dutch. Astrid's only sibling, a brother, lives in Canada (Vancouver Island), so that makes sense. Astrid says the destruction and violence in the last years seems to have come because of both parents now working in so many households. She has much to say about all of this. It is mostly the young males but there are now girl gangs in the bigger cities where there is much stealing associated with them.

    I love the willows, too. They are the natural soul of Holland. I especially love seeing their skeletons in the winter months. When snow is added, it's even better. All our snow did melt but apparently more is on the way. I don't mind. To be honest, these warmer days in the mid-to-high 30s are harder to bear than the colder weather because it's a damp chill that goes straight to the bones. So you're so right.

    Happy New Year as well to you and yours...while you share both sides of the world.

  20. I'd like to hear you say it too; probably sounds just like me saying it these days. I'm told I speak Dutch with an American accent, but German with a Dutch accent - go figure.

    I love those fietsen dripping with icicles. I just know that they are still ridden. Just dust off the snow, chip off a bit of ice, buckle in the baby, and ride off.

    Your willow remind me of a Van Gogh drawing:

    I don't remember having to board up all mail boxes due to fireworks. Of course, there were no atm's or parking machines yet in 1966.

    Gelukkig nieuw jaar!

  21. DB: I would love to hear you speak Dutch AND English. HA! I love fun.

    Yes, those bikes get a work-out all year 'round, for sure. I see seniors still riding them in the snow, but I guess they're used to it.

    I just looked at your Van Gogh link/painting and I so agree. WOW. Thanks for adding that.

    And yes, you're right: a lot has changed since 1966! Gelukkig nieuwjaar ook voor jou!

  22. Oh my dear,
    you are without doubt beeing inspired by the old Dutch Painters.
    Your extrodinary photos here on this post.
    Winter in Holland, I think it's severa years since last time.
    After all 4 Seasons makes us creative and as well creative and more than that...

    btw. It was really nice to hear yours and Astrid's voice this afternoon.

  23. Tor: You honor me greatly, dear sir. Thank you. I know you're glad to be back home. And yes, it was so sweet to hear your own voice last evening. That was fun. Soon we will meet you and that will be a joy!