Lately I’ve found myself on Google maps, zooming in and out, looking for green spaces that are new-to-me. After a year of walks in most of the larger parks in Amsterdam, I’m trying to find new routes and the other day I found a strip of green that I had somehow overlooked until now, only a short 10mn bike ride away from where I live.
So today, after being woken bright and early by Villanelle (my cat who likes to give unsolicited wake-up massages that may or may not include acupuncture with her claws), I decided to head there to enjoy the morning light. I served her breakfast, had a quick bowl of muesli myself and was out the door.
This green space is a strip of park nestled between roads and canals in Buitenveldert which connects the Amsterdamse Bos with Amstelpark. When I arrived around 8.30 it was quiet with birds singing their hearts out, later the traffic picked up and I could hear the cars a bit more. Still it was very beautiful in the warm sunlight, with spring bursting on all the branches with light pink pompoms and petals falling like snow.
There are grassy spaces under big trees, and large bushes with wood-chip paths in the undergrowth. In certain parts it is more like a tended garden with a multitude of different varieties growing within the confines of large squares with mossy brick borders. I particularly like that it is not perfectly maintained, meaning all sorts of plants and weeds are growing together, creating a rich ecosystem for bumble-bees, ladybirds, beetles and all sorts of other pollinators. It’s a nice addition to my regular walks around the city and I look forward to watching the plans evolve over the seasons.
Every day lately I’ve been walking past the trees covered in stunning blossoms just around the corner from my apartment. Each time I make a mental note to take a closer look at their beauty before they all fall down to form a colourful carpet at the foot of the trees.
Today after dinner I went for a digestive walk and finally remembered to bring my camera with me. I caught the very last rays of sunshine before it dipped behind the buildings on the other side of the canal. The sheer number of them is breathtaking and I enjoyed watching them sway in the wind. I also love how the petals are a darker pink on the outside compared to the lighter coloured inside.
In the spirit of trying to channel inspiration for my writing, I have been making a conscious effort to be more observant of what goes on around me. I am easily overwhelmed when there are too many stimuli and living in a busy city means that there are constantly a million things vying for my attention, as well as the need to be careful of traffic, so most of the time I feel like I am blocking out a lot of my surroundings.
However, I do find opportunities to practice noticing things, like sitting in cafés and people-watching, going for walks in my neighbourhood which is rather quiet or just staring out of the window of the tram. Lately I’ve started jotting down what I see. Nothing fancy, just the date and a few words to remember the details of the scene which can maybe serve as inspiration for my next poem or story.
Here are some recent examples that caught my attention:
a little boy on a bike wearing a t-shirt, blue shorts and a ski mask, pedalling wildly on the sidewalk
a gaggle of geese patiently crossing a busy street, head held high and unphased as cars stop to let them pass, and people on the terrasses of cafes watching the spectacle in amusement
delightful blossoms fallen off a tree onto the pavement, forming a pink carpet in different stages of decomposition
Has any particular scene caught your eye lately? I’d love to hear about it!