In Holland, spring is official when the first egg of the lapwing has been found. For me, it’s the first full week that I can bike to work wearing less than four layers. Work is about 25 km away from where I live, a nice ride through the fields, polders and countryside,

finishing in a dense forest.

There are six or seven different ways to get there, but for the past year, every single one of them has been beset with long-term construction or maintenance detours

that add an unpleasant element to the commute, namely riding beside highways. So I’ve been in search for the perfect alternative: a route that doesn’t take too long, but which is free of car traffic. Last fall, I thought I’d found one, but a section of it shut for six months at the beginning of November because it goes through an area where migrating birds breed. And when one of the routes through the polder reopened after four months of being shut for repaving, I thought I was home-free, until it shut again indefinitely (and in Holland, indefinitely means a long time) a few weeks ago for canal reconstruction.

Now, those who know me know that I’ve indulged in the detour a great deal. I’ve spent a lot of time on my bicycle checking out different roads, in search of the perfect ride. And while it may seem an impossible task to find a direct, pleasant and quiet route to work these days, finding that out has been kind of fun. Taking a left off the main road to see where it goes,

or the second right past the farmhouse because it looks like a shortcut to the woods…

the detour is all-important to the mind and the spirit, I think. It helps reset the brain, slows one down and makes one appreciate the landscape, and its diversity.