A Sunday stroll

We haven’t made any attempts to go to church on Sundays, partially because we don’t speak Dutch, so it’d be a waste of time, and partially because the church situation in Europe is pretty dismal, so we aren’t optimistic about finding a decent church for this short of a time. Instead, we stay home, download John Piper’s sermons (even if he IS a Calvinist), and argue about discuss theology. And today, we went on a walk.

Always staying on our guard, of course, for drempels.

We headed east along Langegracht and north on Kooilaan to Zwijgerlaan where we cut back west to get to the Noorderpark. We hadn’t been along this way before. The shops and other buildings were seedier, the architecture reminded me of Communism, and the people had a discontented air about them. There was also a rather cartoonish mosque near this silly-looking fountain.

A Great Blue Heron (or whatever the European equivalent of the Great Blue is) was standing nonchalantly on top of one of these apartment buildings, and Arabic music was streaming out of an open window. The apartments directly abutted the Noorderpark, which at first glance appeared to be nothing more than an overgrown field with a few feeble paths and disgruntled benches.

But, in fact, it was the coolest park ever and would probably be illegal in the states, for ‘safety’ reasons. On the far side of the field, there was a pond, along with the type of playground equipment that sparks the imagination.

First, there was a kind of tightrope over the murky water.

At one time it probably had some kind of thingummy to hold onto as you crossed, but that was no more.

Next, there were the barges whose poles were attached by lengths of chain and generations of pond scum. The water may have been 3 feet or so in places, and we never could see to the bottom of the muck. Poling around wasn’t much trouble, provided you could keep your balance.

Next, a moment of gritty realism. To paraphrase: In the midst of life, we are in the midst of…stinking dead fish.

The lush sliminess of the duck weed was a joy to behold. Also, a joy to hold, and to have stuck to your hands, to cling to your shoes, and, very nearly, to gum up your whole face.

After we had tried out the barges and successfully avoided dropping the camera, we explored the Archimedean screw and overgrown sluice-gates.

You turn the handle on the screw and it catches, lifts, and deposits the water into the mini-canal. You could move the gates up and down to dam the flow of the water, and, I suppose, float boats or whatever took your fancy.

And last of all were the whatsits. They just looked like cement tree stumps, but when stepped upon, they sank and spurted up water. All over my pants.

This whole part of the park is obviously not kept up, and despite the mildness of the afternoon, there were no kids playing in or even near it. A few strayed nearby on bikes, but for the most part, the park looked like it had been forgotten. Sad, really.


On another note, we saw this shop last week, and I’ve been put out ever since – hence the miffed expression. They don’t even pay royalties, the crooks.


~ by themeansister on September 28, 2008.

3 Responses to “A Sunday stroll”

  1. Have you guys checked out the International church – http://www.ichurchleiden.nl/come.html

    Their website says their services are in English, but they are part of a pentecostal network of churches. I know you Lutherans like to wave flags and swords while glossolaling, so I’m sure you’ll fit in there.

    Also, I think there are some people from Campus Crusade at the University there – they might know something about a church. Or about the many drug deals that take place in that awesome but creepy park.

  2. The bird….considering the country in which you find yourself….a deprived childhood, never having read Meindert DeJong’s The Wheel on the School….likely to have been a stork. I love the pond scum! Please bring some home in your boot.

  3. Hi, Mom, I’ve read The Wheel on the School! It just didn’t suggest itself to my brain. And the bird was quite a ways off. Consider me chastened. With pond scum, I will fill both my boots for you.

    And for Joel: Ululaling and glossolaling are my 2 favorite pastimes, so we’ll definitely check out the church now that we know! We may even drag ourselves to the computer and actually try to find the Campus Crusade peeps.
    The park wasn’t creepy! I mean, unless you consider the number of bodies potentially resting beneath the muck. But still…

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