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Electronic Bikes

Dear reader,

Last week, we noticed a bicycle-riding man going past our fields, equipped with nothing but four “krentenbollen” (a Dutch kind of sweet bread with raisins) and a very determined look about him, and we have not been able to forget about him since. Where was he going? What was he doing with all that bread?

The most important part of our story seemed to me the question of whether he had an electrically powered bicycle, or not. I am aware that you may not know much about electrical bikes, or e-bikes, as we like to call them, but they are quite the phenomenon over here in The Netherlands. They are subject of a lot of both positive and negative attention, and people can get unbelievably heartfelt in their advocacy in favor of or against the use of e-bikes.

There are those who believe that the e-bike is ruining the safety of bicycle lanes (sometimes true, sometimes an exaggeration), or who have some kind of moral standing against making life a little bit easier for the rider of said bike, feeling that the electrical powering of the bicycle kind of takes away from the whole point of using your own muscles to cross large distances. Those in favor of the bikes like to call on the fact that most of the people who use an e-bike otherwise would not have been going by bike at all: they would have gone by car, something that is even worse for the environment and the available parking space. I kind of agree with that last point: out here in the country, the distances can get larger pretty easily, and going by car used to be the default, until the e-bike appeared on the regular bicycle lanes.

Anyway, this is all a bunch of information that is not necessarily about flower bulbs, but I’m trying to set the scene in which our stories usually take place. The man from the beginning did not, in fact, have an electrical bicycle, which for some reason really fit in with the fact that he had all that sweet raisin bread with him. His energy was unmistakably old-fashioned Dutch, and in our minds, stories about him went in all kinds of directions, even though we know virtually nothing about him.

I have been told that this is a very “Dutch” phenomenon: people-watching, we like to call it. I think that is part of the reason that we keep all our curtains open during the day so that everyone can see the inside of our house and we can see everyone out there on the street, and that we like to go for lunch and sit outside, so we can watch all the other people who are out and about in the city, and so that they can watch us. So this is what we do at home, just looking out the window or onto the fields and see who passes us by, and think about where they came from and where they might be going.

Personally, I hope that this guy is some kind of bird watcher, or another sort of fan of nature, who had armed himself with sweet bread for an endless supply of energy for his proceedings and a regular old bicycle to efficiently transport himself around the Zijpe county. He could also have been someone who was just extraordinarily interested in agriculture and flower bulbs, or maybe he likes to watch tractors and other machinery doing the work on the field: after all, if people like parking close to the airport to look at the different kinds of planes, why not do the same thing to tractors? There is, after all, tons to see during this time of year.

That last bit is also why I am writing the newsletter, and not my dad: this is always a busy time, and there is lots to do when it comes to digging daffodils and getting them out of the field. We have had extremely good weather for a couple of days, but unfortunately, it was followed by pouring rain, which made going out to the field a very muddy affair. Maybe this photograph will help you picture the way in which we had to come inside for a cup of coffee during our break:

Boots and trousers left by the back door to prevent bringing all the water inside, Burgervlotbrug, 21 july 2022.

As you can tell, we have been keeping ourselves pretty busy lately. Enjoy your summer,

Kind regards,