It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Amsterdam today. The sun was shining, the breeze was light, and the crisp winter weather felt good.
Since it's been so cold (as mentioned in the previous post), most of the ponds in Vondelpark are almost completely frozen. I've also noticed today that a few of the smaller canals have formed some ice, too, giving even more hope to the Elfstedentocht dreams!
Since today was the first day of Christmas vacation, and since the weather was so beautiful, we took a bike ride around Vondelpark. The first thing we noticed were all of the people...kids, mostly...treading on the ice. I said to Stacey, "There is no way that I'd let our kids do that. That ice is WAY too thin." The regular wintertime news flashes of my youth, with horrible news of some kid falling through and freezing to death, must have made an impression. I always seem to remember that 4 inches of ice thickness was the ideal for safe ice travels.
So, after a few laps of the park, Stacey took off on her run, leaving Maya, Cole, and I to enjoy the kids' playpark area, which features a large fountain/reflecting pool, now completely frozen over. There were a number of kids playing on the ice, banging away, slipping around, and enjoying stuff that kids do when on the ice. Maya and Cole were instantly attracted to the ice, and I didn't put up a fight...the water is only 8 or 10 inches deep at best, and upon close examination, the ice seemed pretty thick.
But one spot was a bit concerning...there was a 4-foot wide hole near the center of the ice. Of course, I told the kids about 6 times, "Stay away from the water. Stay away from the hole. Stay away from the water."
After about the 7th time, I just quit. And that's when Cole slipped and fell, face first, into the icy cold drink, completely immersing his lower body, his hands, and a good part of his torso.
It all happened so quickly, and the stoic Dutch nearby reacted predictably: I heard just one guy say, "Oh." Everyone stared as I went into full winter survival mode, scooping up a soaking wet 4-year old under one arm and running for my bike, yelling over my shoulder at Maya to run as fast as she could to follow me. After unlocking the bikes in record time, I threw the sobbing Cole on the bike seat and pleaded with Maya to pedal as if she were sprinting for a Tour de France finish line. Fortunately, the ride home took just minutes, and we had Cole in a hot shower in no time.
It sounds pretty serious, but looking back on the unexpected swim, it was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time! Call me cold (or call my son cold, he he), but it was pretty humorous, especially considering our comments just a few minutes prior to the mishap. I wish I could have had it all on videotape!
A good lesson learned on (another) great day in the Netherlands. Listen to your parents!