Carpe Diem April Paddle – Hillegom, NL

It has been a crazy few weeks since I flew to the States on the 25th of March.  One snow storm after another.  Then my hubby arrived in Minneapolis for work and within 48 hours we were back on a plane and headed to the Netherlands due to a family emergency.  The following days were much of a blur to both of us as we dealt with the emotional rollercoaster of the situation.

Fields in Hillegom

Fields in Hillegom

Unlike the snow storms that seem to be holding tight to the Minnesota landscape, the Dutch landscape is now a patchwork of color exploding into full bloom.

Hillegom Fields

Hillegom Fields

We launched from the same Hillegom paddle launch site where a few short weeks ago I had started my kayak season. Today we decided that we would paddle in the opposite direction away from Hillegom through the canals into the bulb fields.


The cold winter and late spring freezes have delayed the bulbs a bit this year.  The smell of hyacinths hit us as we unloaded Cedar from the car and loaded her on the cart, rolled her across the filled parking lot to the boat launch.  Families walking past to the soccer (football) fields for the Saturday morning games watched us as we walked passed.  Children commented about our beautiful boat as we placed her in the water and loaded our equipment.

“Look at the boat, it is a canoe!”

“Cool, look… a canoe.”

The sounds of pure joy in their small voices made both of us smile as we paddled towards the quiet of the waiting fields.

The stress of the last week melted away as we paddled each stroke as partners of one ship.  Silent in our own thoughts each of us with an occasional mention of a bird we saw or the houses we passed.  We had a white goose that seemed to be very upset we had encroached on his canal. Hissing at us as we passed by.



This part of the Bollen Canoe route is well marked with signs pointing in the correct direction of travel.  The fields line both sides of the canal and are blooming with daffodils, hyacinths, and very few early tulips.

Bollen Route Sign

Bollen Route Sign in Hillegom

At one point we had to portage over a small irrigation control for the fields.  We both laughed and commented how this portage was easy compared to our Boundary Waters 180 rod portage last fall.

Portage Hillegom

Hillegom Canoe Portage

We paddled though more bulb fields and past the buildings that house bulb grower warehouses.

We then paddled past a small farm with new born baby lambs.

Sheep in Hillegom

New Spring lambs in Hillegom

We passed a Canada goose who seemed a bit out of place standing in the tulip fields that will be blooming in a couple more weeks but he seemed not to mind that we were slowing paddling by.  A bit like me, he seemed out of place from his natural habitat of North America but very happy to be in the middle of such beauty. Maybe he felt that Minnesota was a bit too cold this year and came here instead to vacation.

Canada goose in Hillegom

Canada Goose in the tulips fields of Hillegom

We saw the white goose again and he was still not happy to see us, hissing at us again.  We again laughed and paddled past.

At the launch we sat for a moment together in the moment just enjoying the paddle we had just completed.

Thankful for each other, thankful for this moment, thankful for being a team.

Carpe Diem!

Lone Tulip