Spring! As the tulips and daffodils began to appear along the city verges and fields of the Netherlands so do the new arrivals and returning transferees. First the new arrivals that make me question my meat eating tendencies…lambs.
As you travel around the Dutch countryside on your ‘fiets’, the sight of those endearing, new members of the ruminant mammal family lift your heart. They frisk about the radiantly green fields, reminding us of the joy we all feel when the sun comes out this time of year.
The arrival of the spring flowers in our gardens also reminds us that the winter is finally over, and we need to get out and start removing those weeds that survived the winter. The Dutch garden centres urge us to fill our shopping carts with shrubs, flowers and sacks of ‘potgrond’, and seem to suggest that we aren’t completely Dutch until we’ve got soil under our fingernails! Almost everyone in the Netherlands has a garden or a balcony with pots to fill and 9.8% of household expenditure, according to surveys, is on gardening and pets.
Those returning from temporary relocation start to arrive around now, and our skies are beginning to echo to the arrival announcements of the geese as they pass through on their way to more northern locations. The blackbird, one of my favorite garden birds, celebrate with song, much the same way that our children embrace the chance to extend their bedtime, once the lighter evenings begin.
House construction in their new country also becomes popular, with frantic collections of twigs, and debris left by the humans as they honor the fine weather. Storks arrive and begin building their substantial penthouses and my neighbours, the great crested grebes, show their residence building skills with style and charm whilst taking part in their wonderful courting dance. I never fail to be captivated by the romance of the "dance" between these birds.
All of this and we haven’t even got to blossom on trees, bees, butterflies and baby ducklings! As poet Gerard Manly Hopkins said, "Nothing is so beautiful as Spring."