The Prinsengracht Whistler

I’m peddling along the Prinsengracht, late in the afternoon. Dawdling really, because it’s a go slow kind of day, because it’s warm and the trees are green and the tourists are out and about again, mulling around outside the Anne Frank House, and not looking where they’re going. Which always makes me laugh for some reason.

I love this time of year in Amsterdam. The place comes alive, without ever feeling busy or manic.

There’s a relaxed, easy going feel to things.

Maybe it’s what happens everywhere when spring takes hold and the sun comes out and stays out, but I can’t really say I’ve ever noticed it before in other cities. Not the way I notice it here, in any case.

About halfway along, just after crossing the Rozengracht, I hear him.

He’s a damn good whistler. And he’s got some improvised, jazz riff going, as he cruises behind me.

The sounds amplify along the canal and I can see people smiling as I cycle past.

I slow down to allow him to catch up, just so I can compliment him on his virtuoso performance, then stop myself and decide on something else.

I try to imagine what he looks like, this jazzy, whistling cyclist.

And the music, so free and rampant and wild immediately conjours up some beautiful, charismatic, beatnik renegade.

Some suave, stylish, relaxed man, dark haired, dark eyed and self assured.

Someone dangerous as hell in other words.

I hear him getting closer and slow down.

He passes.

Jeans. Red t-shirt. Brown shoes. Grey hair. Saddle bags. An old bike. An old guy.

Average to the point of making me laugh a little.

Save for that whistle, which carries out over the canal and resonates with everyone he passes.

He really is something else…

Amsterdam, on a spring day. I tell you, it will always surprise you.

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