Kermis, The Netherlands

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Despite the locals’ attempts to assure me of the contrary, autumn is well underway here in the Netherlands. The fall has seen us snuggle in and begin to get more rest, nearly unheard of after the pace we have managed since last spring. Part of this is due the total lack of blue sky; though the day may be warm-ish, the sky and sun never quite seem to poke through, with the sky continuously covered in grey clouds. As I look outside, though the day looks like any other with a normal amount of light, above us is only a cover of white.

I have also begun taking private Dutch lessons twice a week.

“Let’s talk about the weather,” my teacher will say.
“Het is herfst,” I begin. “Het is koud en het is bewolkt.”
“Nee! Het is zonnig!” she counters.

It goes like this. But, she is quite “prima,” and I am learning a great deal. Though I kept up with studying languages classes here and there, in the now six years I have been out of an academic atmosphere I am amazed by how much my brain power and knowledge of things has shrunk. I find myself eager to learn and memorize.

This week my teacher invited us to the Halloween parade for which she was in charge of the monster makeup. The event is held in the Volkspark, which is where we normally go for a run and to have a look at the bunnies. After the excitement of the last week, I fear the rabbits may be gone for the season, however. The parade turned out to be more like an outdoor haunted house, and, despite our knowledge of the paths throughout the park, completely disorientated us.

Alongside the haunted path is currently the autumn fair, Kermis, once again proving what has been validated time and time again: that despite my thinking that “Ag”riculture Days growing up was the best week of the year, carnivals and fairs are virtually the same the world over. As the Frenchman and I sized up a flip-you-over, whirl-you-around ride and its teenage ride manager smoking a cigarette and glowering, we at the fragile pieces of metal that are continuously undone and then put back together again with each carnival stop and grimaced. Adult logic has finally set in.

Though I did convince the amusement-park ride-hating Frenchman that we should take our chances, at 8 euros for two people for perhaps less than one minute of “fun” (depending on which of us you ask,) adult logic set in further. Someone, somewhere, is making a fortune off of children and their parents who probably wish that beer was served at such things. (One point down for the Netherlands is its lack of hot wine or even over-priced event beer at the festival. Even France, with its side-eyedness towards drinking in public would have offered some such warm refreshment.) I only hope that whoever it is has a mini-coaster in his backyard, Richie Rich style.

I also enjoyed the fact that the festival’s rides/events/etc. were mainly in a mix of English or Germenglish or Dunglish (which I have learned from Dutch for Dummies is the correct way to combine “Dutch” and “English.”) The most questionable ride of the fair was the “Beach Polyp,” whose mystery of appeal completely eluded us. “Wat is dat?” I found myself wondering.

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