News - March 10, 2011

The all-season slippery slope


Once I was out cycling on the dyke. It was summer and it was raining, as often happens in the Netherlands.

I saw an amazing scene: several Dutch families were sledging down the dyke as if it was winter. They used a long roll of plastic instead of ice. Probably, this plastic was previously used in agriculture to cover crops; I am not sure. To make the plastic slippery, they used soap. Everything around was wet: rain from above, soap on the plastic, soggy grass around...However, men, women and many children were not afraid to get cold; they were drinking, laughing and going up and down the hill. A nice guy grabbed me and off we went down the dyke. It was exiting!    

I am from the land of snow, Russia. Every family in Russia has snow equipment of different kinds to go downhill and we do this for many months during our long, cold winter. Most of our hills are natural and some are specially built for children. Definitely, if we had dykes like here, people would use them for winter entertainment. However, people in Russia keep their entertainment seasonal.  I could not imagine that families would take time to make a sledging hill in summer. In summer, families are busy picking mushrooms and berries in the forest, and drying, canning and preserving them for the winter. If it rains, families prefer sitting at home; they often worry that children get cold and sick if become wet, so they watch them more carefully than people do here.  

Maria Tysiachniouk (Russia), PhD student at Environmental Policy