Spring is returning to the Netherlands (in fits and starts). The train between Delft and Amsterdam passes some of the famous flower fields of Holland, and on a recent trip I participated in the collective “oh” as the perfect rows of yellow came into sight. I’ve been making more treks to Amsterdam, taking advantage of its proximity before we depart, and each time I go, more hardy Dutch souls are sitting canalside at cafes and eating the first ijs of the season (if they stopped in the winter, which I am not convinced that they did).
In Delft, the students have spring fever. (Again, I find myself thinking: this presumes that in the winter they stopped, and I’m not sure that they did.) A couple weeks ago I was biking home around midnight on a Friday and, squinting ahead, thought: Are there people in the canal? There were! And right around then, they all climbed out and raced nude down the street shouting. Last Thursday, we made another Amsterdam excursion to take a Puglian cooking class at La Cucina del Sole and on our return trip, a transportation problem forced us off the train in Leiden around 11:30PM with no trains continuing to Delft. Eager to get home with the next day’s work looming, we were less than eager to wait for the overloaded and slow-moving buses NS was orchestrating.
“We need to find some people to split a cab with,” I said.
Right about this moment, a group of six girls dressed as M&Ms and drinking out of plastic cups began yelling: “TAXI TO DELFT! WHO WANTS TO SHARE A TAXI TO DELFT?” I think they had their eyes on a group of male students, but the obvious answer was: we did! One of the girls was already on her phone with a taxi-van service and minutes later we were all crammed in, Tim and I up front with the driver. Buckle up, was all I could think. The girls were in party-mode, the driver was pedal-to-the-metal, and at a couple points I seriously doubted we were ever going to make it home. I know there were a few cyclists who nearly didn’t make it home, as our driver basically ignored them on Leiden’s narrower streets. The M&Ms begged the driver to change the station (he did), to let them smoke in the van if they opened the windows (he did). It was one of the girls’ birthdays, they explained. She was turning 19. We all sang (in Dutch).
Despite how ancient and old and unhip we felt, plus the aforementioned questions as to our survival, I couldn’t keep myself from smiling as we floored it down the highway and eventually pulled up right at Delft Station as planned. It was one of those experiences that was too surreal to forget.
Delft is looking gorgeous on these first warm-ish nights. I’m pretty sure it’s shining itself up to taunt us as we pack, with our windows cracked open and crew boats going by on the canal. I know I’ve been packing but the apartment doesn’t seem to have noticed. Instead, it looks like everything we own that holds things has belched them out. Next week, the furniture goes up for sale. It’s all a bit overwhelming, but we’re trying to make long lists and take it one check at a time.