This weekend I found myself shoveling more snow than I have since my public defender days in Alaska. As I put my feet up and warmed my weary bones, I re-read a piece my friend Alan Yatvin wrote after getting caught in the snow here in The Hague three years ago. I was reminded of the vivid picture he painted of that experience, and his ruminations on the legacy of the ICTY. I also longingly recalled that which Alan kindly omitted — that I had abandoned him and was then enjoying much more salubrious weather in Phnom Penh. So for those of you, like me, trudging through the snow this weekend, here is a taste of an earlier storm, with a link to the whole essay. Stay warm.
A snowy December night in The Hague
I was in The Hague for a meeting of the Association of Defense Counsel at the International Courts (ADC-ICT). This was my last day in The Netherlands before heading home and it was snowing.
With images of Hendrick Avercamp’s impish 17th century paintings and childhood memories of Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (book and movie) dancing in my head, I set out for the “centrum” to fill the last afternoon of my vacation. However, that snowy, frozen canal climate is long gone from this country. Unused to so much snow in a short period of time the Dutch city was, if not paralyzed, substantially slowed down.
After wandering around mostly deserted streets, I headed for the oh-so-convenient bus whose route dropped me practically at the door of the home of my friend Michael Karnavas, where I was staying. Over the next hour, it finally dawned on me that despite the illuminated boards assuring that the bus was 9 minutes, then 4 minutes, then 1 minute away, before disappearing from the board altogether, the buses had ceased running. So, I caught the tram to the beach, which I knew stopped behind the building housing the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) a 10 minute walk from my lodgings.
As I walked back, I stopped by the Churchillplein fountain, in front of the Tribunal, to reminisce and contemplate its impending closing.