How did you spend your time when we were forced to stay home or at least not have contact with other people? It was a difficult time. Maybe you also had a visit from the covid-19 witches? They certainly did some pot-stirring in my village. My strategy to keep them at bay was to get on my road bike and climb a few South Limburg hills. Often, I had the road to myself because Heuvelland was closed to outsiders. But, it was not so nice when my eldest son was stopped at a checkpoint and then not allowed to bicycle home because his accent was not Limburgs enough.
With the checkpoints gone and while social gatherings are still not allowed, seeing a bit of the countryside around Maastricht is an excellent way of fighting off any new episodes of the Lockdown Blues. There are websites and apps (such as, route.nl or MaastrichtBereikbaar.nl) that can help you get around and plan walks or bicycle circuits.
I further benefited from such an app when I made a cycling tour of the National Park De Hoge Veluwe, which is a couple of hours north of us. Through two relaxed-pace, 40-kilometer tours and a couple of long walks in the park around the royal palace Het Loo, I reconnected with long-lost friends. The fact that my annual trip to the United States to visit my family was scuppered this year, felt less gloomy as I enjoyed catching-up and discovering parts of The Netherlands that had eluded me.
Autumn is a delightful time to explore the great outdoors, with the leaves changing color and a harvest moon hanging in the crisp blue sky. There is much that we cannot control about our new world, but we can shut off our computers, say a heartfelt goodbye to our Zoom-mates, and go outside to enjoy the world around us. I found out that the covid-19 witches melt in the sun and prove very flimsy when confronted with even the slightest breeze.
Roberta Haar, professor at UCM; Faculty of Science and Engineering