Birthday walks in the autumn forest

Birthday walks in the autumn forest

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The Dutch birthday season - with its circle parties and cakes and coffee - has struck again. But this time, the news of one such party echoed like a beautiful song, Dutched Pinay writes.

The birthday season has struck again. Whenever the 'ber'-ending months kick in on the calendar, it’s not only the seeping cold and the autumn leaves that come rolling in, but also, a succession of birthday events in Dutchman’s side of the family.


For many of us who have lived in Holland for quite some time, we have come (or are still yet to come) to the disenchanting realisation that tulips do not grow all year round in the fields; accepting also our new mode of transport daringly — the bike; understanding that being cheap is actually being cool; discovering that not everyone in Holland gets stoned, and, realising the importance of the required and unavoidable attendance during family gatherings — the birthdays.


Birthdays in the Netherlands are a very old weathered tradition practiced unwaveringly and handed down from generation to generation.

In many instances, expatriates have failed to understand and follow the logic behind this almost-an-obligation-to-attend-to activity with the family and up to some point, with friends. And we also wonder why everyone must sit together in a circle, sometimes small or sometimes large — so that the chairs forming the loop would already occupy the four corners of the living room — while being served with tart and coffee. Yes, lots of coffee.

I guess if you do not fancy your boyfriend or husband’s family, then coming to birthday reunions is surely a daunting task. In my case, I enjoy the time I spend with them, especially now that I can speak Dutch. I definitely look forward to celebrating birthdays in the Netherlands.


So, last week was the birthday of the older sister of Dutchman. She turned 43. Knowing how passionate she is with the outdoors, I knew right away, deep inside, that she will be up to something evocative, where she can celebrate her special day away from the archetypal Dutch birthday circle in the living room assembly.


Without a doubt, when I came back from my business trip Saturday evening, the Dutchman announced that tomorrow Sunday we are going to the Kaapse Bossen [in English, Cape Forests] for his sister’s birthday bash. The Kaapse Bossen is located in the south of Utrecht province, between Doorn and Maarn.

Ah, the news echoed like a beautiful song in my ears …

I love walking in the fresh autumn forest. Many Dutch nature parks have a sundry of walking routes. I love feeling the abundant fallen leaves, now in hues of bright yellows and oranges, while they make squishy noises beneath my feet. I love harvesting nuts from the forest floor. Picking interesting looking twigs and leaves too and putting them into my basket for accessory alibis that I can later use in decorating the home. I love looking out for uniquely shaped and colorful mushrooms to photograph. Oh, I love the silence. It’s like a gentle melody that calmly soothes and caresses our stressed earthly system.

And the birthday picnic celebration in the Kaapse Bossen last Sunday proved to be a success. Birthdays in the Netherlands have never been this ingenious, adventurous and dramatic. It was a brilliant idea to begin with — not just for birthdays — to take time out and dwell with Mother Nature; a perfect way of spending autumn weekends in the Netherlands. Of course, if the unreliable Dutch weather permits.

I came home very relaxed and energised. Ah, what a lovely way to end the week and to start another with. A walk in the forest is indeed therapeutic. A matter of fact, it’s what many of us need, from time to time.


19 October 2006

Dutched Pinay / Expatica


To find out about nature parks in your area for the coming weekends, please check out this site:

And the Kaapse Bossen is part of the Nationaal Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug.


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