Botanical gardens are a wonderful outdoor place to retreat to in these COVID times and because the plants evolve so much over a short period of time you can return regularly and feel like you are discovering a new place. No matter how often I go to the Botanical garden in Amsterdam Zuid, every visit is different and new details pop out every time.
On that cold morning, I first went to the French consulate to apply for my passport renewal. The process these days involves two temperature checks by the security guard, waiting room with face masks, handing over my paperwork to the clerk on the other side of the plexiglass added to her desk and a whole lot of hand-sanitiser gel… I’m very glad that they are taking careful precautions, but couldn’t get out of the stuffy office and into fresh air fast enough. Luckily, the Botanic garden is just a few minutes bike ride away:)
Apart from the people working in the garden, I was the only visitor, so I could really take my time strolling through the alleys, unworried about people getting too close, and slowly marvel at the variety of plants. The highlight that morning was the fall colours. Reds, pinks, yellows and oranges catching my eye all around me, the last ones hanging on the branches, on the ground, or landing among beds of other plants forming new creations…
As I start taking pictures, my breathing always deepens and I enter into a lovely state of flow. I am unaware of time passing as I crouch down to look at the ground at what treasures I might find and drop my knees into the soggy soil to closely look atthe lines and textures on the plants.
I’ll share more pictures from the Botanical garden soon. In the meantime for pictures of my previous visits click here. If you are in Amsterdam, I highly recommend a visit, you can find all the details and adjusted opening hours on their website.
Last week, on a quiet Friday morning I went for a walk with my Mum and her partner at Marly-le-Roi. We did our usual round through paths beneath the tall trees and then they chilled on a bench while I went to explore the place that had caught my eye.
Whereas the grass is yellow and dry through most of the parc for lack of rain, there is this large dip teeming with young trees, waving reeds and wild flowers. I made my way around it slowly admiring the gorgeous colours and variety of plants.
At one point I stepped on a dry branch close to the side and startled something. I just caught sight of the backs of a couple of deer bounding away before they disappeared into the thick of the reeds, leaving no trace.
I love the colours of this little eco-system, the pastel pinks and silvery greens combining with the light reed tops and darker greens of the shrubs. This space is so lush and wild in contrast to the highly symetrical layout and trees trimmed in cone-shapes of this part of the parc. I am glad that these little of bushy pockets remain for the wildlife to take shelter and thrive.
The Artist’s Way is a book I dive into regularly because of Julia Cameron’s deep wisdom (and humour!). Recently I pulled it off the shelf and opened it at a random chapter as I often do, knowing it would provide me just the nugget of guidance I need. This time I landed on the chapter about ABUNDANCE, which made me laugh because I’ve also been pulling that word lately from my tiny pack of Angel cards… Clearly this is something for me to focus on at the moment;)
Interestingly some of the exercises from the chapter are about getting rid of things around the house. I always need to get over that little voice in my head that whispers that I may need it later, the one that is scared I won’t have ENOUGH. It seems counter-intuitive at first to give away things to feel abundance. But there’s a reason why I’m not wearing the t-shirt or why my heart is telling me it’s fine to let go of some object I have lying around for years that I didn’t even choose myself.
Seeing the happy look on the face of someone who comes over to pick-up a second-hand purchase is always a pleasure. I can tell they will appreciate the object so much more than I do and it avoids one new item being put out into the world. Also, after depositing several back-pack loads of books at the little free library, my bookshelves are lighter and more ‘me’.
Parting with all these objects has highlighted that I have more than enough, and as an added bonus, this clearing has created space for a few new things, chosen with care. This week I treated myself to new washi tapes, finally replenishing my collection which had dwindled to with quasi-finished rolls and dark colours. I splashed out on the good quality ones with beautiful patterns and bright colours like neon pink, enough to decorate my journal and my snail mail for a long time ahead and I felt like I was spoiling myself in the best of ways:)
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.
Just a few words today, because I’ve spent too much time at the computer this weekend, working on my writing assignment in the hope that my genius would turn up and give me a hand (in vain!). So I leave you simply with this photo of a beautiful camellia, of which there are many at the Botanic Garden in Cologne. I love how the silky light green outer petals open for the explosion of the flower, the flurry of pink speckles and dark pink patches on the curves of the petals. Wishing you a good week!
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!
This weekend I walked down a road that happened to be blocked and I had to go back the way I came and make a detour to get to my destination. As I retraced my steps, I spotted these lovely small pink flowers growing tightly at the foot of a tree. They made my day!
They were a wise reminder that sometimes in life it seems like you are not going anywhere or you may reach a dead-end and need to back-track, however there is surely something wonderful to be found on the way:) I’ll be looking out for it!