Photo of the Day: The most wonderful time of the year...

Centuries pass.

But thank God some things never change.

Constants embedded into low country cultures. One mainstream, one niche.

Overijse.  Gloucester.  Koksijde.  Plymouth.  Doesn't matter whether the cold Atlantic is east or west.  Mirror image, same scene.

A gathering of 'working people'.  Wind.  Mud.  Snow.  Ice.  Low grey skies.  Effort.  Community.  Cold feet, warm feelings.

Discussions.  Apprehension.  Waiting.  Preparations.  Anticipation.  Moving, seeking out the perfect observation spot.

A contest of speed and strength, favoring the snel and sterk.
Silly hats.   Beer.  Laughter.  Ruddy faces bellowing. Guttural exhortations to encourage the suffering.  A pause, time  for more beer.

Finally, a winner.  A brief, low key celebration, appropriate to the event's station.

Observers with knowledge lurk with respect and reverance, supporting the combatants.   No losers.  Only participants with ruddy cheeks, rubbery legs and oxygenated irises from the natural drug called wintersport, in open air.   Icarus brought back to earthy people with back pats, a few words, and warm clothes.

Then at dusk, home to hearth, warmth, and hygge.

Early darkness eliciting woulda-coulda-shouda stories over a hearty meal, and a glass of beer in hopes that sustained conversation can delay the imminent arrival of a new week of toil and drudgery.  A week that endured with dreams of next Sunday, another venue, another contest.

Welkom Veldridjen.   Cross season is here.

Years ago New England kids used to have pond hockey.   Now kids play summer hockey in rinks in July, so that's pretty much gone.

Thank God there's still cyclocross.  The kids need to know it's better than video games.

I'm pretty sure Bruegel would have understood.


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