February has done its usual trick of flying by at incredible speed. It’s hard to believe that not so long ago there was all this snow lying on the ground and people skating on the canals. It’s even more mind-blowing that one short week later we were experiencing warm spring temperatures of 18 degrees and indulging in the first ice-creams of the season. As I take my daily walks, I’m grateful to witness nature preparing for spring to burst forth. The days are getting slightly longer and we get to enjoy the blissful rays of sunlight just a little bit longer. Crocusses add a gorgeous touch of purple and yellow to the grass. Small bright green leaves are appearing on branches.
A colony of starlings has chosen to settle in the conifers outside my window. Most evenings they come, swooping down in groups and filling the branches. I love listening to them chatter all at once deep into the night, oblivious of their pigeon neighbours who were used to having the trees to themselves. When a sound startles them the starlings fly off all at once, their wings making this magical whooshing noise as they fill the sky with a ballet of their dark silhouettes.
Recently storm Darcy swept across the Netherlands leaving a layer of snow over the city and immobilising public transport. The first couple of days the clouds hung heavy and the wind was blistering cold, but that didn’t deter anyone from going out. The streets and parks were full of people dressed in full-on ski-suits and colourful hats and scarves.
Wrapped in my many layers, I also went to explore, enjoying the crunch of every step in the fine snow. It’s amazing how these paths, that I’ve been walking along so regularly during the last months to keep my sanity during lock-down, looked so new and exciting just thanks to a beautiful dusting of snow.
It was also fun to watching people on long-distance skis making laps around the park, children on fancy sleighs or simple constructions made from kids’ chairs cleverly tied together, snow-people and snow-forts being built on the side of the road…
Woke up last Wednesday to find it was snowing! The streets were beautiful and so quiet, with the snow padding every sound. Instead of rushing to work like I normally do, I took my time and walked one stop further to catch the tram in order to have a peaceful moment before my busy day in the office.
On my way home I did the same. Despite the freezing wind, I got off the tram and went for a quick walk in my neighbourhood, watching the sunset with its warm colours overtaking the sky. I’m feeling deeply grateful for these moments appreciating nature’s beauty.
Today in Amsterdam, the weather is a drab grey with a bitter wind that turns cycling into a real battle if you are unfortunate enough to need to pedal against it. So I’ve decided to reminisce about that day during our stay in Rome when decided to get out of the city and go on a day-trip to Subiaco to climb the Monte Autore.
It was a beautiful sunny day as we drove up the mountain, thoughwe weren’t at all prepared for snow as we’d only come with regular hiking shoes! Luckily many people had preceded us on the path and the snow was compact enough to walk on most of the way, if we just followed in people’s footsteps.
Most of the way the path isn’t steep and we could just saunter along. As we got higher the views over the surrounding mountains became increasingly breathtaking. From the top, at 1854m, the landscape was amazing, with the clouds, mountains, trees and snow interweaving as far as the eye could see.
On the way down, I suddenly found myself entirely alone as the others were further ahead. I took a short break, knee-deep in snow, surrounded by utter silence, just to soak up the utter joy of the moment. I etched this moment into my mind, with all its sensations, to tap into when I need a boost (on a grey Sunday afternoon for instance). Then I proceeded to stumble/run giddily down the snow-covered slope to catch up with the others.
My balcony overlooks a lovely patchwork of gardens and sheds, belonging to the owners of the appartments on the ground flour. The walls of the building form a large rectangle around the gardens, enclosing this wonderful ecosystem in which birds are the main protagonists, seemingly oblivious to us humans as they go about their business.
Fat turtledoves fly heavily from the railing of one balcony to another, groups of green parrots (who have taken root in Amsterdam) come by from time to time sqwaking loudly, tiny blue tits flit amongst the branches and there’s even a beautiful lone woodpecker who appears from time to time, tapping for bugs in the bark its favorite tree…
I love how the view on the gardens is constantly changing with the seasons. Today heavy snow flakes were swirling around in the wind, giving the gardens an enchanted look. The birds took shelter as they could, while the snow gently covered the ground and the branches and it was quieter than usual. So beautiful!