A little humour to start the week is always welcome…
On one of my favourite cycling routes, on the bank of an ancient Pingo-Ruin, Burgumer Mar (lake created in the Ice-Age) I came across this hilarious sign.
Even though I realise most of you can’t understand the Dutch language I imagine you can already grasp the gist of it’s serious yet facetious warning…I shall attempt to construct a concise translation…
Headline: SHIT doesn’t belong in the water!
Poop from birds, dogs, people and horses contains vast amounts of Ecoli Bacteria, pathogens that pollute the water in which people swim.
You can help by:
Not feeding the birds.
Cleaning up rubbish and scraps of leftover food.
Not pooping in the water youself.
Although these statements contain some truth, the natural inhabitants of this area, the birds, fish and other animals are obviously going to carry on as normal…and to be honest I’ve never seen dogs, horses or people wading out into the lake because they suddenly feel the need, so to speak. Personally if I get caught short, which has been known to occasionally happen, I find a secluded area away from the beaten path, scrape out a shallow pit with a stick, and bury it afterwards…the same as man has done for centuries past…
The real problem (and I regret to have to say this) are the chartered sailing ships, century old vessels, carrying between 20-30 (mostly German) tourists thoughout the idyllic and abundant waterways of our beloved Frisian landscape. On board there are usually a couple of toilets which are constantly in use, the contents thereof lead to one big sewage tank that has to be eventually emptied where? Yes, you get it….Into the Water! If this procedure is not carried out on time, then there is a big stinking mess in one of the sleeping chambers and that really isn’t a pleasant task to clean up… Yet as a former shipmate on one of these elegant vessels, I can tell you that the Captain of the ship generally takes responsibility under such circumstances whilst the shipmate temporarily takes control of the helm. Additionally, it is protocol to always empty the sewage tank into the water during periods of actual sailing out in open water, but when the ship is docked in a harbour alongside a whole fleet of similar vessels and the point of overflow is at hand…then you can obviously guess the immediate solution….which normally takes place in the mornings for some reason….😉
Coincidentally, and I use that word somewhat sarcastically, in the summer, the lakes here in Friesland have to endure an exponential and widespread growth of toxic algae blooms and when this happens it is advisable to not go near the water at all, let alone swim in it. Obviously, I’m not a scientist or expert in these matters, I’m just a crazy artist, so admittedly I may sometimes make connections that hold no truth.
As a conclusion, returning back to the original issue of the aforementioned sign, I have noticed in the small villages across Friesland, that the locals often disregard most propaganda such as this and they don’t let anyone dictate where or how they may walk their dogs, as they are rebellious free spirits, which is a stance that I personally love and respect dearly, that’s why I feel so at home here…
In the words of the local rebels “Ik heb er schijt aan!”
Twists and Terns
More than a decade ago I spent a couple of years as a shipmate on large sailing ships, taking on groups of 24 people at a time to sail on Ijsselmeer, the Wadden Sea and the Frisian lakes and canals.
A regular companion on our journeys were common terns who followed the ships…hunting for fish in the wake the ship carved…expertly dealing with the wind deflecting through the large sails, I could watch them for hours….which obviously affected my concentration for the job I was supposed to be doing. 😉
Currently I view these birds from terra firma as they hunt the margins for small fish…they hover over the water before they dive suddenly to capture their prey, the first photo is a common tern and the second is a black tern.