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A chair is the time-honored and indispensable skating aid

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In winter, Amsterdammers watch the falling thermometer readings with the same focus as people in Aspen and Chamonix. When the temperature drops low enough for long enough, the lakes and the canals in Amsterdam become sparkling highways for the skaters. Little kiosks are set up on the ice to dispense heart-warming liqueurs. I really love this part of our culture. Almost everyone, young or old, likes to skate and is smiling and friendly. The last days the cold was enough for the canals to freeze over a rare occasion. Amsterdammers sharpen their blades and hit the ice. On the 5th of February 2012, the first people started skating on the canals of Amsterdam. A lovely view of people skating on the Keizersgracht canal. Who knows times of Hendrick Avercamp are coming back this year. Avercamp was the first Dutch artist to specialize in paintings of winter landscapes featuring people enjoying the ice. Some 400 years on, our image of life in the harsh winters of the Golden Age is still dominated by Avercamp’s ice scenes with their splendid narrative details of couples skating, children pelting each other with snowballs and unwary individuals falling through the ice.


Photo of Samantha skating on the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam. The young boy bring a small chair to stand up and stay up. A chair is the time-honored and indispensable skating aid. This is not only because it will help her to stand, but also because pushing the chair helps teach the correct method of skating. As temperatures plunge across Europe, many are cursing the cold. But not in the Netherlands. There, many are hoping for further frigid conditions. This weekend we could ice skate even on some canals of Amsterdam. This week temperature will remain below zero and we could skate on even more canals in Amsterdam.


Eindelijk weer een weekend waarin Jordanezen de ijzers konden onderbinden. Nog geen ideale condities want door de sneeuwval van afgelopen week is het ijs niet overal even goed, maar geen wakken. Op de Keizersgracht is het ijs net dik genoeg,er kan best aardig geschaatst worden. De grachten eindelijk bevroren en de adem komt in kleine grijze pufjes uit mijn mond. Handen op de rug. Rustig ademen. Ik geniet van het geluid van de ijzers over het ijs, sneeuw en een prachtige gezicht op de Amsterdamse grachtenpanden. Het is zo koud geweest dat we zelfs onder de bruggen door konden schaatsen. Wie even wegdenkt kan zich vandaag in Hendrick Avercamps wereld wanen. Als eerste Amsterdamse kunstenaar uit de 17de eeuw specialiseerde hij zich in het schilderen van winterlandschappen met ijspret. Ons beeld van het leven in de strenge winters in de Gouden Eeuw wordt na 400 jaar nog altijd bepaald door Avercamps ijsgezichten met prachtige verhalende details van schaatsende paartjes, kinderen die elkaar bekogelen met sneeuwballen of een man die door het ijs zakt.


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Taken on February 6, 2012