Pink speckles

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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!

 

 

Spring in the Amsterdam Hortus

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Spring time in the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is enchanting! The garden is coming back to life with buds and blossoms everywhere you turn, from the sprawling beds on the ground to the trees, peering out from in between rocks and on flush bushes.

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I love how the changes with the seasons means every visit is really different. This time we took a tour, led by a guide who shared her knowledge and fun facts about different plants around the garden.

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But my favorite part was afterwards, walking along the winding paths with my camera, unrushed, spotting colours and textures of the new bursts of life, emerging under the sunshine, reaching towards the light.

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When, despite the sunshine, it got a bit chilly, I went to my favorite spot in the greenhouse to warm up and admire the captivating cacti… but I’ll write more about that soon;)

Signs of Spring

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Sunday as I cycled home from the bookclub, I noticed some bushes covered in what looked from a distance like small yellow tassles, against the blue sky.  After picking up my camera at home, I took a short walk back through my neighbourhood until I reached the square, located between four roads, where spring is starting to show in the nurtured flower beds.

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I took a closer look at those branches to find them covered in what looks like cheerleaders’ pompoms made with crepe paper, encouraging ravenous pollinators to come visit them.

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Though the purple crocusses popping up through the grass are more striking, I love the colour combination on these ones, perfectly suited for a 70s kitchen.

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On branches that were bare just a few days ago, tiny leaves are sprouting, deep lines etched into their surface like the grooves on your fingertips after lying for too long in the bath, and clusters of tiny yellow flowers spread their pistils like antennas searching for signals in the warm spring air.

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Nature’s wisdom

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #82

I’m not much of a cut-flower girl, as I usually prefer potted plants which have a longer life. However lately we’ve had peonies around the house on several occasions and I have to admit those colourful flowers can brighten up a room! I’m loving that pink and the messiness of those gorgeous petals…

It seems like each peony has its own character.  When Paolo brought them home, they were all still in their tight buds, but some of them burst open in the space of a few hours, like they couldn’t wait one minute longer in the constricted space of the bud and wanted to show off their beauty.

Others, which we have nick-named ‘the oppositive ones’, refuse to rush and stay in the bud much longer, taking their sweet time to emerge petal by petal when the time is right for them.  I’m seeing this as a kind reminder from nature that it doesn’t matter what your rhythm or speed is, you are worthy and beautiful anyway:)

Squeaky-clean windows

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #77

This morning when I sat down to enjoy a delicious croissant bought at the French bakery on my early morning walk, the sun was pouring through the kitchen windows. This would have been lovely except for the fact that the windows were really dirty, covered in dust accumulated from the long rainy winter.  It’s not like it was the first time I’d noticed this… I’d just been procrastinating. However this morning, after my leisurely breaky, I unexpectedly felt like it was the right moment to give them a clean.

Armed with my environmentally friendly window cleaning equipment (aka warm water mixed with vinegar and a couple of old newspapers), I washed off all the layers of grit with a cloth and dried the windows with balled up newspaper.  So easy and satisfying, it’s amazing what a difference it makes. Squeaky-clean windows make me so happy and the view of the gardens in the courtyard is just that little bit crisper:)

What we do when the sun comes out

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It seems that Winter finally got the message and handed over to Spring. Tiny little green leaves are making their appearance all around and we enjoyed some lovely warm weather in the last days.  Perfect for a weekend without fixed plans, allowing for a long improvised wander along the canals with my sister as we admired the city whilst chatting (and searching for ice-cream:)  It felt great not having my shoulders bunched up close to my ears permanently tensed against the cold, as we sat on a bench soaking up much-needed vitamin D and reading our books undisturbed while the sun slowly made its way across the sky.

Forest bathing

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Being in my hometown means I have the luxury of being in walking distance of the forest.  Yesterday I made the most of a rain-free afternoon to go for a walk. Though the trees have no leaves yet, the branches carry tiny buds and white flowers are growing on the forest floor, a glimmer of hope that spring is finally on its way.  The path is a little muddy, winding up and down the slopes and along old rock walls.  At some stage, we are deep enough in the forest to no longer hear the road, the sound of cars is replaced by the birds singing and the crack of the branches under our feet.

I love the feeling when my body gets into the rhythm after walking a while and my feet just carry me along, step after step with no particular goal, as I take in the beauty of the forest.  I could walk for hours like this, until my body is tired and my mind is clear.  In Japan they acknowledge the healing benefits of spending time in the forest and call it forest bathing (what a perfect name!), it’s even part of the national public health program. Imagine what the world would be like if every country did that?

Time to move on

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Dear Winter,

Thank you for your request to prolong your contract.  We regret to inform you that, although you have performed remakably, we already have a replacement lined up.

For the last months, we were glad to use your cold days as an excuse to bundle up in blankets on the sofa to read for hours and watch movies, only going out when strictly necessary.  The snow you offered us occasionally was also much appreciated (as well as that one day when the ice was thick enough to skate on the Amsterdam canals).  Your crisp air and blue skies are stunning, however at the moment we are in need of something slightly different.

We are asking Spring to step in for a while. She comes with a strong experience in longer daylight hours and improving the weather. She will encourage sap to flow through trees, bushes to grow new leaves and flowers to show their brightest colours. Thanks to her contribution, it will soon be possible to leave hats and gloves at home, to enjoy after-work drinks outdoors and go for long sunny hikes in the dunes on the weekends.

Please rest assured that we value your efforts and look forward to collaborating again in 8 months or so.  In the meantime, we are glad to write a reference if you need it for the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy being Down Under!

Kind regards,
[illegible scribble]

 

Such a perfect day

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #26

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Leiden to spend one of our ‘creative afternoons’ with my friend Eva (a.k.a. eating delicious lunch, talking about all sorts of things over coffee and cake, getting some creative inspiration and then enjoying more food for dinner and chatting further into the evening:)

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We decided to go to the Hortus to observe plants and spark our imagination.  It was so different from the last time we went in November! With the arrival of spring there were many lovely new plants, and we spent an amazing afternoon strolling through the sunlit gardens and then sweating profusely as we explored the tropical glasshouses.

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The collection is so abundant, that there was an infinity of amazing shapes and incredible colour combinations to look at.

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Soon we were completely in the flow, pointing out tiny details to each other and admiring the rich textures and striking shapes, orchids in retro-colours and wonderful bright purples and blues.

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Short walk around the block

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #24

In the last few years I usually try to flee Amsterdam on King’s Day to avoid the crowds of people dressed in orange who hit the streets to celebrate the King’s birthday.

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This year I’m in town but I took the opportunity of this day off to chill at home and do some spring cleaning at home whilst listening to S-Town (I’m hooked!).

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Neverthelsess with the sun shining so nicely outside, I decided to get out of the house and go for a spontaneous photo walk around my neighbourhood, where luckily there are no crowds.

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Despite May being just around the corner, it was still pretty cold, practically glove weather.  The flowers popping up on every corner, bushes growing shiny fresh new leaves of all different colours and trees in full bloom tell another story.  Winter is over!

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It was a pleasure to be mindful and take in all the colours and textures to be found on a short walk.