I keep forgetting that on Sundays the Dutch railway system doesn’t quite work as advertised. The schedule my brother had laid out for me included trains that never ride on Sundays and trains that usually do but not on February 1. Eventually I made it to Soest, a small town in the center of Holland close to where the royals have their palaces. Having left Holland so long ago I don’t have the associations others here seem to have. Soest appears to have a reputation of being a sleepy town for retired people. It is true that behind my brother’s house there is an apartment building for people who are 55 and over. For his kids and their generation this means old; for us it is nothing.

We walked the town from west to east and from north to south – it is stretched out with enormous fields in the center, a windmill, grazing sheep, Iceland ponies…all very rural and a far cry from his former city house in The Hague. When I woke up the next days he said, “Isn’t it quiet here?” May be that’s the thing about old people. Then quietness is nothing new for a citizen of Manchester by the Sea.

We had another family reunion, only missing one of the siblings and so this  is how I keep the family together; my transit through Holland always becomes a reunion.

When I checked in at the KLM desk at Schiphol I asked about the Boston snowstorm Axel had warned me about but there was no news other than the plane was taking off as scheduled. It is hard to imagine a snowstorm when the skies are blue.

Three and a half hour out of Boston the captain told us the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ signs would remain on for the rest of the flight. He gave a 20 minute warning which made for long lines for the toilets. We flew in total whiteness the rest of the flight and were warned that if we couldn’t land in Boston we would go to Philadelphia. Everyone clapped when the plane had landed and stopped. It was the braking that was a bit iffy given that the entire airport was covered in snow and the visibility was probably no more than 30  feet,  if  that.

The ride home continued under a total white-out condition and when we got home Axel had to shovel a path between meter high walls of snow to our front door.  It was the most challenging home coming ever.

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February 2015
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