On Saturday, March 9, history was made. It rained in Utrecht for 24 hours straight. I felt like it was raining a lot, in fact I even said that it seemed like it was raining all day. And I was right. The last rain record was in January of 1960 and it then rained for 23.5 hours. The good news is that it was not a constant downpour, it was just a very wet day and night.

I keep reminding my friends in America that there are two kinds of winter:  the Dutch kind and the American kind. Here, it can get cold and wet. We can have a little snow or no snow. It can get a little icy, but those days stand out. There are times that driving on the motorway can be very dangerous, mainly because of black ice. But really, winter in The Netherlands does not have a lot of drama.

If we talk about New England, then we are talking about a lot of drama! This winter has been very tough with record numbers of snowfall.  So much snow has fallen that they do not know where to put the snow, and many cities and towns have to actually remove the snow with trucks.

When you live in Massachusetts, you get a warning about a snowstorm. You generally know about a biggie about three days before it arrives. The weather forecast is either completely wrong or they are pretty accurate. But you don’t know that three days in advance. All you know is that many inches of snow will fall and that means you have to be prepared. Let me give you an idea of what happens before a storm.

You immediately imagine your kitchen and what you have in the cupboards and refrigerator. Do you have enough bread, eggs, and milk? Do you have enough of the salty and sweet treats that will tide you over during the stressful snowstorm?  Some people stock up on beer, some have to get diapers and some have to get pet food. There is such a fear, and sometimes it is justified, of losing power during a storm. If you have lost power once, it then becomes your mantra for the future. Do we have enough candles, batteries, peanut butter (food that you don’t have to cook) and should we think about getting a generator?  First, people think about food and heat. But they also worry about being entertained, so there is a mad rush to libraries to get books and dvds. Stocking up means preparing for all kinds of needs, physical and emotional.

When I first moved here, and I heard that we were getting storm, I said “well, we have to get to the store tomorrow.” My knee jerk reaction was to stock up just like I did in Massachusetts, but we are talking about two different countries and two different types of weather. It is hard to turn off that reaction, I still have it, but it has calmed down since my first winter. The Dutch do not stock up like Americans, and there may be many reasons for that. But one really practical one is that they do not have the space.  Americans have bigger kitchens. Many of my friends have extra refrigerators and a freezer in the cellar or the garage. There are cupboards and shelves built to keep all the extra food. Here, people are very creative about storage and they need to be. Space is very different here and I have grown to appreciate the limits of what you have to deal with and I think it does make you think about what is important. The truth is that if there is a sale, I will buy more items because it is a good deal. But I am not driven by snow, because it is a rare event here. If I was back in Massachusetts, I would still get to the store early before the mad rush of shoppers came in looking for bread, milk and a massive bag of potato chips. Maybe some Ben and Jerry’s. Possibly some wine. Cocoa and marshmallows for in front of the fire. It would probably be smart to get some toilet paper. Everyone has their own comfort food and needs, and that really shows during a storm.  People do what they need to do to get through a day or many days when they are out of their regular routine.

It is so much fun to talk to a New Englander about the weather because they have stories about past storms that make you feel like a wimp. I imagine it is the same thing here. Be safe everyone. As happens each year, the flowers will be peeking out very soon. Eggs will be hidden and chocolate will fill baskets again. That is one thing you can count on: the seasons.

Are you looking for a comedy to get through the winter? I just saw BERNIE starring Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. Lots of fun and based on a true story.  



Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • teelee2013  On March 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I enjoyed your post today! I live in Florida, so winter here is delightful. I did, however, grow up in Ohio, so I know what a blizzard is. Our stressful time is hurricane season – when we rush to the store for staples, toilet paper and batteries (and gasoline for the generator)!! It’s just a matter of where you live! Have a wonderful day!

  • krunn7  On March 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Teelee above recommended you to me. Your posts are the kind I like to read as they are about other countries and cultures and how people spend their regular daily lives. I just started on a new computer with Windows 8 and keep forgetting the new tricks.

  • Jean Langley  On March 13, 2013 at 3:31 am

    I’m sure your friends in Holden,Massachusetts told you that Holden got the jackpot on last week’s snowstorm,which the meteorologists underestimated. Holden got over 2 feet of snow. As far as rushing to the store, there was a cartoon not too long ago with the opposite concept. Because our power outages have been lasting several days in some communities and neighborhoods, the joke has been that you have to rush to drink all the milk and eat all the ice cream before the power goes out and it all spoils.

    If the public library happens to have power when some of the neighborhoods don’t, it’s amazing to see all the people who come in to charge their phones and laptops. But it’s still true there’s a rush on DVDs and books when a storm is predicted.

  • Aledys Ver  On March 13, 2013 at 10:04 am

    This is very funny… it reminds me of all the preparations you would think you should make when taking a road trip from province to province here in the NL 🙂 Blankets, flashlight, food, warm clothes, sth to read, a portable dvd player and films to watch on the way …. to go from Zwolle in Overijssel to Harlingen in Friesland 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: