Last weekend I took a little walk near Amsterdam Zuid station. Despite the biting cold and a short rain-shower here and there, the plants seemed keen on showing off their fresh beauty as I made my way around. It was so bountiful, with dashes of unexpected colour calling out for my attention every few steps.
A tiny magnolia tree in front of a brick wall (the shape of its unopened flowers reminiscent of the claws that my cat Villanelle is so determined to sink into my flesh when she sits on my lap to cuddle.)
The rugged green petals of an intriguing tulip, ready to unfurl.
The pink exterior of a bud just about to reveal its fresh green leaves.
A flush orange bush with tiny popcorn puff flowers.
The deep shiny green of these leaves wrapped so beautifully around each other.
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.
Last Friday, I went for a long walk in the Amsterdamse Bos to enjoy the lovely afternoon sunshine and magic hour. I ambled without destination or time-pressure, taking time to breathe and looking closely at the plants along the way. Spring has done wonders since I took photos there on a cold windy day back in the early days of confinement in March.
The wild flowers and purple grasses are popping up everywhere, brightening the path with their delicate shapes and burst of colours. I took a break to write my ‘Late-Afternoon Pages’ on a bench by the water, accompanied by the clamorous song of countless birds perched in the trees all around.
There were plenty of new leaves showing off beautiful patterns and colour combinations. It felt so relaxing to wander without haste for several hours, enjoying the softening of the light, until my stomach started to rumble and I decided to make my way home, the sun low in the sky.
Greeting card action for charity is still on-going – find all the details here and don’t hesitate to reach out:)
I went for a long walk this afternoon to stretch my legs and clear my head. As I watched a small sailing boat on the water, I breathed in, deeply enjoying the comforting warmth of the sun on my black jeans.
Bordering the path, lots of delicate wild flowers, white, yellow, blue and pink danced in the wind. I carefully picked a stem here and a piece of grass there, risking the tingle of a nettle sting on my pinky, and came home with a small bouquet to brighten up my kitchen table. An unruly and joyful explosion of colour to keep me company as I eat my meals over the next days:)
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.
I am grateful for an afternoon spent on a long walk with a friend, safely keeping the security distance of 1,5 meters, among the trees. We made our way through the Amsterdamse Bos as we chatted and relished in the gorgeous weather. As we caught up and speculated on how the next months will turn out, we roamed with no real direction, passing the goat farm, steering out of people’s way, watching a man on a beautiful black horse gallop back and forth along a long sandy path… More than just the surroundings, it felt good to be with a friend in-person and to share with the rhythm of our steps and talk without staring into a screen.
Last weekend walking with a friend in the Amsterdamse Bos (with 1,5 meter safely between us!) we ended up in the cheery tree garden and found it was in full bloom! It was spectacular, but there were quite a few people around so I didn’t feel comfortable staying too long.
However the next day I felt drawn to return, so I went at the end of the afternoon hoping it would be quieter. Clouds appeared and an icy cold wind started blowing and soon there were even less people milling around. What I love about this garden is how much more beautiful in real life it is than on pictures. Looking up at the branches is enchanting.
The density of the white flowers, as well as the symmetry of the evenly spaced trees, the peace and quiet, a few ducks waddling here and there, you don’t know where to look to try to take in all the beauty.
I lay on my back on the grass in the last rays of sunshine and watched the branches swaying in the wind, the occasional black bumble bees flying up high among the blossoms. Each time there was a strong gust of wind the petals showered down on me like snow.
I agree with this sweet handwritten note found on one of the trees. So grateful for nature and how lucky I am to be able to take these lovely walks and witness spring in all its glory.
If you are cooped up indoors and can only go to the supermarket and back with a self-written permission slip, this post is dedicated to you. You may be wondering what spring looks like out there, well let me tell you it is magnificent!
In between the flurry of zoom meetings and skype calls, I’ve been taking walks in the parks around my neighbourhood. On Friday, the sky was overcast and it was cold and windy, but I went deep into the Amsterdamse Bos and walked for a couple of hours in no particular direction, letting myself be guided simply by interesting-looking branches with budding leaves.
From afar there was not much to see, but when taking a closer look, the textures and colours were amazing. Soon the trees will be green again, and I am so glad to have the possibility to witness the transition of the seasons and observe these wonderful details.
In trying times, it becomes even more obvious how much there is to be grateful for. Here are some thoughts on my seventh day of social distancing. I am so thankful for the fact that I am safe and healthy, and so is my family. Also, I can work from home quite easily and I am lucky that I don’t have to juggle work and taking care of children like many people do.
I’m impressed by how fast we can adapt to a new reality, however unexpected. The initial ‘hamstering’ of pasta and toilet paper now seems to have slowed down. Seeing so many neighbours come to their windows at 8pm, to clap for the medical staff and others performing vital jobs, is heartwarming. When I watch series, I catch myself feeling surprised when I see characters shaking hands or hugging each other, because I am so aware of the need for physical distance.
This week has been a remarkably social one. I’ve had increased digital contact with family and friends, near and far, from all over the world. I’ve connected with friends online to catch up over a glass of wine, I’ve seen pictures of my colleagues’ home-offices and pets (one has a bat who nests in his house!), as well as received and passed on an inordinate amount of memes.
So far, in Amsterdam we are not in lock-down, so I am also taking lots of walks while I can. I’m deeply grateful each time for the freedom to leave the flat and witness spring unfolding. Those walks are definitely helping to keep me grounded and I’m sharing these photos for those who don’t have the possibility to go outside as they wish at the moment.
After spending too much time reading the news on Saturday, I decided to go for a walk to get some fresh air, as it is unclear how long we will still be free to do so. I took my camera along and did what is best when my mind gets overworked, which is to enjoy forest bathing and focus on details.
So far in Amsterdam we are still allowed walk outdoors freely, as long as we keep our distances from others. There was a cold wind blowing, but the sky was bright blue with wispy clouds floating by. Spring is progressing undeterred by what is going on for us humans.
It felt really good to be among trees that are coming back to life after winter, with tender leaves budding and catkins of all sorts. I liked how the sun shone through the leaf above, creating a tiny scene with the shadows. As I was walking quietly, a male pheasant crossed the path and disappeared into the undergrowth, leaving me just enough time to admire its bright colours.
I was also captivated by this surreal-looking fungus which looks like very delicate skin. A quick google search leads me to think it might be a Wood Ear Mushroom – but I’m not sure and would love to know more about it if there are any experts reading this:)