Tag Archives: spring

Campuri olandeze cu flori / Dutch flowerfields

Cum sa nu iti placa tara asta cu florile ei dementiale?
Sambata am ajuns in Callantsoog, un sat la mare, in vestul Olandei, cred ca cel mai nordic loc in care am fost pana acum in Olanda. Am vazut la televizor cu o zi inainte ca este o zona cu multe campuri cu flori, noi le stiam doar pe cele din jurul parcului Keukenhof, mai sudic deci. 

Asa ca am combinat o plimbare cu masina printre campuri in multe culori vesele cu o plimbare pe malul marii, scurta, pentru ca era o zi cum numai olandezilor le place ca sa o petreaca la mare: cu vant, vezi aici mai multe despre placerea asta olandeza.

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How could one not like this country with its incredible flowers?
On Saturday we went to Callantsoog, a village at the seaside, in the west of the Netherlands, I think the most northern place I have visited so far in the country. I had seen the day before on tv that it is a region with many flowerfields, we only were familiar with the ones around the Keukenhof park, so more to the south.

So we combined a car trip around the colourful flowerfields with a walk on the beach, a short one, as it was a day only Dutch people can enjoy at the beach: with lots of wind.

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Vreme, parada florala si sparanghel / Weather, flower parade and asparagus

Dragi cititori,

Am o gramada de vesti de pe meleagurile olandeze.

Una bombastica tare este ca, anul acesta, primavara olandeza pica in data de 14 aprilie. 🙂
Dupa toate prognozele meteo, duminica vom avea o temperatura maxima de cel putin 20 de grade.
De unde sambata va fi o zi mohorata, cu ploi, lipsita de soare si cu max. 14 grade, duminica vom avea 8 ore de soare si caldura asta teribila.
Dupa care luni urmeaza o zi tot calduta dar cu 65% sanse de ploaie.
Cum fix in weekendul asta de primavara am sa ma aflu in tara vecina si prietena Germania, nu am sa pot sa confirm daca asteptarile se vor adeveri. Nu m-ar mira deloc daca se amana primavara 2013. Din nou.
Pe acelasi subiect meteo, o noua belea: din cauza frigului rabdat indelung, natura pare sa se afle cu 3 saptamani in urma fata de aceeasi perioada din alti ani. Astfel, parada anuala a florilor din bulbi (bloemencorso, vezi site-ul) nu va prezenta zambile autohtone, ci din import, din Franta. Celebrele campuri olandeze de flori inca nu sunt inflorite, iar cum parada va avea loc sambata, 20 aprilie, nu exista alta solutie. Acest lucru nu s-a mai intamplat pana acum niciodata in cei 66 de ani de cand se organizeaza acest eveniment.

Din arhiva personala: asa aratau campurile de zambile la 10 aprilie 2011:

Iar o alta veste legata tot de starea naturii este ca ieri, 11 aprilie 2013, s-a deschis oficial sezonul de sparanghel in Olanda! Acest sezon incepe intr-a doua zi de joi a lunii aprilie.
Evenimentul se ia in serios, prin organizarea unei ceremonii si numirea unui ambasador care sa popularizeze timp de un an sparanghelul, supranumit “aurul alb” – nu glumesc, in caz ca asta credeti! 

Ba exista chiar si un slogan, anul acesta este: “Gusta primavara!”.
Vestea buna esta ca, datorita toamnei lungi si blande si a frigului iernii care a facut ca sparanghelul sa ramana timp mai indelungat in pamant, sparanghelul de anul acesta este deosebit de gustos.
Pe un site, numit “centrul sparanghelului” aflu ca mai am la dispozitie 73 de zile pentru a cumpara sparanghel proaspat, mai exact pana  pe 24 iunie, cand se incheie sezonul conform traditiei, de Sf. Jan.
Pentru cei dintre voi care se afla in Olanda, bucurati-va de primavara de duminica, de zambilele importate si sparanghelul nou atat cat vor tine! 🙂
Dear readers,
I have plenty of news from the Dutch territory.
The breaking news is that this year, the Dutch spring will take place on April 14th. 🙂
According to all weather forecasts, Sunday we will have a maximum temperature of at least 20°C.
Saturday will be a grey day, with rain, no sun and 14°C, but Sunday will have 8 hours of sunshine and this terrible heat.
After which the Monday will also be warm but with 65% chances of rain.
As I will spend this spring weekend in the neighbouring and friendly country of Germany, I will not be able to confirm if the expectations will come true. But I would not be surprised if the spring 2013 will be postponed. Again.
On the same weather related subject, a new problem: because of the long lasting cold weather, the nature seems to be about 3 weeks behind schedule. Therefore, the yearly bulbflower parade (bloemencorso, see the site) will not show indigenous hyacinths, but imported ones, from France. The famous Dutch flower fields are not in bloom yet, and since the parade is planned for April 20th there is no other option. This is unprecedented in the 66 years of bloemencorso.

From my personal archive, this is how the hyacinth fields looked on April 10th 2011:

And another piece of news also related to the state of nature is that yesterday, April 11th 2013, the official asparagus season has started in the Netherlands! The season begins every year on the second Thursday in April.
The event is being taken very seriously, including a ceremony and appointing an ambassador who will advertise for a year the asparagus, also known as “white gold” – I am not joking, if you think I might be!  

There is even a slogan, this year it’s: “Taste the spring!”.
The good news is that, due to the long and soft autumn and to the cold long winter, the asparagus is very tasty this year.
On a site, called “asparagus center” I find out that I have 73 more days to buy fresh asparagus, that means until June 24th which is traditionally the end of asparagus season, on St. Jan.

For those of you in the Netherlands: enjoy Sunday’s spring, the imported hyacinths and the new asparagus for as long as they all last! 🙂


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The PADDENTREK phenomenon

Come to think of it, the Dutch have a lot of habits regarding animals. I have a new post about animals, this time about the paddentrek, the migration of toads.


Some amphibian species, among which the common toad (bufo bufo) and the salamanders, hibernate in the woods, sheltered, and in the spring they wake up and begin a straight mass movement to the nearest stagnant water where they lay eggs and fertilize them. For this purpose, they can cross distances of up to 1,5 km, which happens at twilight and at night. The scientists have not yet discovered how these animals are able to orientate and how they know where the water they are heading for is. And because there are thousands of amphibians moving at the same time and in a straight line, crossing all sorts of obstacles, such as roads, many times they are the victims of cars and bicyclists.

The Dutch wouldn’t be Dutch if they didn’t get involved also in the fate of  these animals.

Not only by road signs such as this:

File:Paddentrek Oranjewoud 02.JPG


but also by volunteering and getting out on the roads in the evening, gathering amphibians in buckets and taking them on the other side of the road. Also, the volunteers have the duty to count the encountered animals, not only the helped ones, but also the ones for whom help came too late and who were killed.

File:Paddenoverzet 001.jpg


So maybe next to a visit at Keukenhof I can tempt you with a volunteer action with toads? 🙂

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Posted by on 2 April 2012 in ENGLISH POST, Fenomene olandeze


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The KOEIENDANS phenomenon

At the beginning of spring, the Dutch can witness a phenomenon which will cheer them up guaranteed.

Many bio farms organize for the public a koeiendans, meaning a dance of cows. Because the cows have spent the whole winter inside, this is the first time after so many cold, dark months they get out in the warmth, the sun and where the fresh grass is!

And because they really are glad, they show it by their “dance”, they hop of joy when leaving the stable.

Lente gevierd met koeiendans


To get an idea, here is a film from youtube, you can find more by searching for “koeiendans”.


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The ROKJESDAG phenomenon

As the spring has officially begun yesterday (and yes, I am right, this year it has begun on 20.03, not on 21.03),  another Dutch phenomenon (partially, as I understand it is also known in the USA) is being mentioned more often: rokjesdag (skirt day in America).

The word exists already for a longer time and is a synonym for bloesjesdag (blouse day).

Skirt day is, according to writer Martin Bril, who made the phenomenon popular 16 years ago, the first sunny day of spring which is warm enough, around 18° C in the afternoon and not too chilly in the morning,  when all of a sudden a lot of women can been seen on the street wearing skirts and bare legs. It seems so sudden, as if the women have previously agreed on doing this at the same time.

M. Bril  was surprised especially by the apparent spontaneity of this phenomenon, I quote: ” How do all the women know that it is skirt day? No fuss is being made about it, it is not being announced on the radio or tv. So it must be an intuition visiting thousands of women at the same time”.

In the meantime M. Bril has passed away (in 2009), and now the radio and television are trying to determin which day will be skirt day, so that exactly the spontaneity which was the foundation of the whole phenomenon is ruined. The weather forecasters, the press, everyone is announcing “day X  is the skirt day of 2012”.  There is even an app for smartphones called skirt alert.

What they didn’t manage to destroy completely is the fact that there is no certainty. For instance, last week it was said that Thursday March 15th will be suitable for skirt day, but nobody knows if it really happened. According to the newspaper M. Bril was publishing in, skirt day didn’t happend last week, because only a few skirts were spotted,  but there was no mass happening. So maybe skirt day will only be tomorrow, when the weather is predicted to be sunny and warm. Or maybe only in April, because M. Bril was writing that it happens most of the times around April 15th. But I have the idea that spring comes earlier every year, so who knows?


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The beginning of spring in the Netherlands

The same province Friesland, known for the skating tour of the 11 towns, also has a spring tradition: finding the first lapwing (kievit) egg.

The first found and registered egg is then offered to the Queen’s commissary (a longer time ago to the Queen herself) and is a symbol for the beginning of spring. The commissary places the egg in a bowl of water and if the egg floats it means it is fresh and then the commissary eats it.

This year it happened on Saturday, March 10th. And I am inclined to believe it is right, since the following day was the first real beautiful day of spring of this year, 15° C and sunny.

But the tradition is less innocent than it seams: in all of Europe picking up lapwing’s eggs is forbidden, but for Friesland an exception was made, because of “cultural-historical” reasons.

Between March 1st- April 9th a max. of 6.934 eggs may be picked up (how did they ever get to such a number?). Also, the persons who pick up the eggs must have a special card, issued by an association for the protection of birds, so that, if the owner of such a card does not follow the rules, the card can be cancelled. And per person no more than 15 eggs may be picked up. Each found egg must be registered by sms, after which an sms will be returned with information whether the founder may keep the egg. I wonder how many lovers of lapwing eggs “forget” to send an sms and, honestly, I don’t see how these measures can prevent the people from taking as many eggs as they want.

It seems that every spring about 6.500 inhabitans of the province go looking for eggs and that the whole tradition is somehow a matter of ego, as the finder of the first egg receives from the Queen’s commissary a small silver lapwing and a price of 15 euro, but what seems more important is that the finder is considered a real hero (???). This I can understand, maybe, eventually, but after the first finder is known, why do thousands of people still keep looking for eggs? If they were living in a poor country, where food was a luxury, I would have been able to understand this, but since it is not the case, I simply can’t. It seems that these eggs are true delicacies and they are being eaten even raw. I am reading on the internet the words of an inhabitant of the province and he mentions how, living there, you are being instigated by friends to go looking for eggs, and as soon as the spring approaches the people become restless and go out in the fields. This person also writes that they will not stop at lapwing’s eggs, but also pick up other eggs, especially duck’s… So I really have no confidence that many people follow the rules…

According to the Association for the Protection of Fauna, since 1996 the lapwing population has decreased dramatically in Friesland, and the birds should actually be protected. But this proposition is not being taken into account yet.

The president of Friesland’s Birdwatchers’ Union suggests to get the seeking and picking up of lapwing eggs on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage, because it is an old tradition, dating for centuries. Each year, the tradition causes discussions and if it were on the UNESCO list, it would be recognized for good.


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Lentekriebels (in Keukenhof) ENGLISH VERSION

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got them, already for a few days, since it started getting warmer outside and I’ve seen the first crocuses in the garden, I have lentekriebels! Which I wish for you too!
It can be translated as “spring tickles”, the feeling you have when spring is coming, the joy that the weather gets warmer, the days become longer… The Dutch have a word for it and they use it quite often.

I found a suggestive image on the internet (Goodbye winter depression, hello spring tickles):


I find on the internet explanations of the phenomenon: why are we happier during the spring? It is all about biorhythm, about more light, warmth, which gives us more energy, we produce more dopamine and serotonin, we feel in love, in a good mood, to such an extent that even a major spring cleaning seems a good idea 🙂

The Dutch take advantage of it and have one week a year in the primary schools called the “week of spring tickles”. During which every day at least for one hour the children are being taught about relationships and sexuality, in a manner corresponding to their ages.

But to get you more in the mood for spring, I want to show you a bit of Keukenhof, one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially for the flower lovers.

It is a spring park, open for only two months each year, from the end of March until the end of May (dates for each year and more details can be found on the site:, full of bulb flowers, so tulips, hyacinths, daffodils… arranged so beautifully, full of colour, with interesting forms… the park is always full, the tourists come from all over the world, but the atmosphere is pleasant, the flower lovers cannot be but pacifists 🙂 You can walk a whole day long, there are terraces, you can sit on the grass, you can take a boat for a tour among the flower fields surrounding the park (tickets for the boat must be bought in the park, at the windmill!), you can rent a bike and feel Dutch for a day, on a bike among tulips. If you are lucky and it’s a sunny day, I guarantee a perfect unforgettable day.




Keukenhof has won prizes for the most valued attraction of Europe, in 60 years it has had more than 44 million visitors, it claims to be the most photographed place in the world, it has 7 million flower bulbs, planted by hand…



If you really intend to visit the park, I have only one suggestion: come at the middle of the opening period, in the beginning many flowers will not be in bloom, and towards the end many will be faded and it’s a shame not to see as many flowers as you can in all their glory.


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