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Spring In The Netherlands

At first glance you wouldn’t notice anything odd about the title of this month’s column, until you realize that it’s June.

Not March. Not April. Not May.

It’s June, and Spring has only recently arrived here in the Netherlands.

Now I don’t know whether this is a result of global warming, a one-off year of wetter and colder weather than usual, or some sort of karmic retribution for collective bad deeds in Nederland.

Strike that last choice, considering others in places as disparate as Central and Eastern Europe, the UK, northern US and Canada have all been caterwauling in unison on this theme.Spring in the Netherlands, as in other places, has its share of good days and some not-so-good ones as well. A string of warm, sunny days is often followed by a blast of cooler air swooping in from Scandinavia or Siberia. Similarly, a spate of rainy days can be interspersed among dry ones as spring begins in fits and starts. No quibbles there, it’s to be expected.

But usually by the beginning of April we’re able to put away heavier coats, peel off a layer or two and begin enjoying warmer – dare I even say, hotter – temps. Thermostats are turned off, not to be touched again until September.

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The bicycle paths, long the province of the dedicated cycling clubs dreaming of Tour de France or Giro d’Italia fame, become packed with ordinary folk out for a weekend jaunt in the countryside.

The seasonal beach bars and restaurants along the boardwalks up and down the western coast of the country are unshuttered, spruced up with slap of paint and some new lounge cushions, and opened for business. The number of surfers, donning wetsuits and balancing surfboards as they cycle to the strand, rises exponentially.

In cities, towns and dorpjes (small villages), coveted seats at local sidewalk eateries are taken up from lunchtime through late afternoon on into early evening. With the lengthening daylight there’s no rush to get home quickly through the darkening gloom, no need to light the candles once safely ensconced behind solid doors and heavy curtains.

Indeed, spring is when we’re able to throw open doors and windows, clean up our outdoor furniture and enjoy lunches – even dinners, sometimes – al fresco.

Well, not this year.

What does it say when you’re still wearing a winter coat in late May?

It’s been so cold and damp this spring, a friend bemoaned the fact she needed to order additional wood for her fireplace. Six days shy of June 1st.

So the tardy arrival of spring last week was welcomed with open, albeit long-sleeve clad, arms. Spirits lifted and sunscreen made an appearance. We even enjoyed a few days where sandals and short-sleeves were in order. Night time called for nothing more than a light jacket.

Lest you think this is merely whimpering about the weather, let me tell you what’s at stake: summer.

When on its best behavior, summer in the Netherlands is absolutely divine.

It gets hot enough to lie on the beach, perhaps frolic in the bracingly refreshing North Sea, and yet still be able to ride home with a light breeze to keep you cool. Humidity is almost unheard of, and dazzling sunlight at ten o’clock at night lends a festive atmosphere when out and about. Relaxing dinners in the garden or at outdoor cafés can stretch on languidly for hours.

Of course it can rain and often does, and we have our share of cool spells. But usually we can count on the kind of simmering heat that warms the bones, and we eagerly store it up against the coming winter. Most of all, we celebrate the golden days of summer for their ability to restore the inner youthfulness of years past: a time when we were out of school, days stretched interminably before us and we hadn’t a care in the world.

So yes, I am concerned. With one eye on the calendar and the other on the daily forecast, I’m trying to decipher precisely when summer might make an appearance. We’ve even had to turn the heat back on at night.

The way things are going, it doesn’t bode well. And for that I am truly aggrieved.

A writer and American expat living in the Netherlands with her husband and two teens, Linda pens articles on expat life and blogs at Adventures in Expat Land sharing the good, the less good and the just plain odd with a twist. She is also a co-author of the recent bestseller Turning Points: 25 Inspiring Stories from Women Entrepreneurs.

You may also follow Linda’s adventures on Twitter @in_expatland.

Read Linda's other Expat Focus articles here.

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