That feeling when you wake up to another grey, rain heavy sky and start to wrack your brain for ideas on how to turn this into a fun, quality family time kind of day. The frustration of how long it takes to get everyone ready and out of the door when secretly you are finding it hard to muster enthusiasm for the rainy walk in the woods that you have sold to the kids as today’s big adventure. And the feeling that in this country there is just nothing to do with young kids when it rains. And oh how often it rains.
A few minutes from home we sit waiting for the boat to ferry ourselves and our car the short 5 minutes across the water to Spaarnwoude. I forgot that this would be a pretty new experience for Bodhi and suddenly it is transformed from a chore to a world of new discovery – watching as he takes it all in with his big blue eyes and intense sense of adventure. In the 20 minutes that we need to wait for the next boat we take a short walk along the banks of the canal and I feel my heaviness lift as the imagination of my children transforms the landscape around me from a bleak nothingness into a world of colour and limitless possibility. We find nesting swans and noisy moor hens hiding between the reeds and stand feeling our chests fill with excitement as the power and vibration of low flying planes swallows up the air around us leaving behind them a sense of awe and new possibilities.
Another 5 minutes drive takes us to the heart of a forest that could have been lifted straight out of an illustration from an Alice in Wonderland novel. I feel my energy shift again as bird song fills the woods around and above us, creating an orchestra so loud that we are momentarily transported from these low lands to the middle of the Amazon rain forest. We hunt for tigers and snakes as we follow the winding pathways between the trees, breathing deeply in all the fresh, fresh air. Above our heads the trees reach out their arms to embrace one another, creating a protective ceiling of green which shelters us from the sky as it plays out its melody of heavy rain drops that fall all around and yet never quite seem to touch our skin. We walk until we lose our way, pausing in a moment of silence as we take in the lush vegetation all around us, our eyes feasting greedily upon the vibrant green, reds and yellows of a spring foliage only recently awoken from its winter slumber.
And amongst all this wonder our children run happily and free, never stopping once to notice the grey sky as it hangs heavily above our heads.
Because beneath this grey sky all the wonders of the world are waiting to be discovered.