Because early afternoon, while the Dutch royal family paraded through the town of Apeldoorn, a man intentionally crashed his car into a sealed off street the official bus travelled on, and killed (so far) five people. What motivated him, we don’t know yet. But he tainted this day in history, and dragged the country onto front pages all around the world.
It’s sad. Whenever a relatively small, and in this case, peaceful place, makes the news, it is seldom for good reasons. This day used to be the day this country stopped to party and celebrate. This day will not be remembered with such pure jubilance anymore.
I had hoped to tell you that today is not even this Queen’s birthday (Beatrix). I wanted to say that the current queen has her birthday in late January, which is still chilly and damp. So she stuck with her mother’s birthday (Juliana) in April, which encourages everyone to come out and enjoy the weather, have fun, sell their junks, and go on boat cruises. But you probably know that already through CNN and BBC, undoubtedly regurgitating the same Wiki snippets.
I also wanted to tell you about what the country look like when it turns orange. Orange is to the Dutch what green is to the Irish. During national soccer matches, or on a day like today, everything that can turn orange will turn orange: orange confetti, orange hats, orange shirts, orange faces, orange wigs, orange boats in the canals. Last night, the supermarket had orange cake. But now, all we’ll see on TV and pictures are images of a nation mourning innocent deaths amidst a sea of orange sadness.
I had wanted to tell you about what it is like for a short person like me to mix in the company of very tall people; and about the crowded streets, packed patios, and boats cruising on the canal, complete with boom boxes and DJs; about live performances that range from techno DJs spinning sets, to rock bands, to jazz; about jammed storefronts occupied not by commercial businesses (they are mostly closed), but by households cleaning out their garages, and a disproportionate amount of children’s plushy toys on sale. It’s a time when people get together and hang out on any kind of floating devices on the many canals in the country, throw back beers and pick up pizza from restaurants by the water. Yachts, diesel-propelled motorboats, wooden row boats, inflatable rubber boats, planks tied together: you see them all.
Given what’s happened, none of that will really matter now. Festivities are still ongoing, but most live performances were shut down after 3pm today. I’m back home now, and am continuously updated on more bad news, complete with more disturbing images. But I still want to remember today as the day it started off to be: a warm, joyous, friendly, orange day of crowded streets, full patios, lazy dogs, and lots of beer-happy people cruising along the canals. Now if someone can only turn the clock back a dozen hours.
picture source: =neslihans