Something’s gloomy today. The mid-day sun is nowhere to be seen. I sit in my apartment overlooking the canal. Droplets of water fall from the sky and hit the moving current, forming little white splashes that last for seconds like tiny flickering lights.
Motorcars that line the banks and the maroon slacks of tall Dutch men that go by on bicycles are the only snatches of colour on this dull day. Maroon is such an insipid colour for anyone with blonde hair and a fair skin tone drenched in rain.
Today is the day for observing people on bicycles. I set out on a study from my window, perfectly perched up close to the glass. I watch as Dutchies cycle up and down the quiet road. Some are text-messaging friends, their bikes swaying from side to side as they perform a careful act – eyes motioning up and down, from keyboard to street and back again. The most natural thing on earth, it appears.
Then there’s a lady with her baby strapped to her chest. She cycles with vigor to get out of the drizzle threatening to dampen her child’s clothes. I see the back of her as she cycles past my window. Her grey shirt soaked, her shoulders hunched in attempt to prevent rain from entering the baby’s harness. Her black half boots motion round and round as she pedals quickly, disappearing around the corner.
I wait for what feels like hours until the next Dutchie appears on a bike. And when he does, it’s worth it. This time it’s a rather large man cycling with his equally chubby wife. This is not a tandem. She sits on the back end of his bicycle; her legs squeezed tightly together dangling from one side. It is a feat to get that bike to move, let me tell you. But somehow it does and everything seems lop-sided. Nonetheless, the podgy pair look oh-so-cozy in their colourful fleece clothes albeit the slowness of their chosen mode of transport.
Next I see a group of young boys shouting to each other on their bikes. The pubescent teens cycle in all directions hormones raging as they pass a blonde lady and her dog.
My study of people on bicycles concludes with a father. A young father of about thirty. I quickly recognize him as my neighbour. I know the bright pink child’s seat attached to the back of his bike. He takes his toddler and straps her in tightly. I see the little blonde curls move about her head under a pink hooded rain jacket. She makes faces at him, motioning him to hurry up and start pedaling.
A day of observing locals leaves me with few options. I fear that I too may be swayed by the sound of bicycle bells, the eerie rattling of metal at all hours, the sustainability factor and the ability to go pretty much wherever I want in the pouring rain.