13 September, 2011

I'm singing in the...

Living in the wide open spaces of the countryside cuts you down to size.  You feel appropriately insignificant, mother nature in her extremes is writ large and subject to inexplicable whimsy.  Moving to the bricked-in spaces of the city creates this pulse-quickening sense of expansiveness, all those languages, accents, skin colors, eye shapes, extraordinary personal histories, the swerve of social history evident in heroic buildings, the ringing trams, clustered bicycles--and mmm, those bookstores.  All that potential and hectic activity give the impression that we, as individuals, really can blaze our own trails. It simply took tasting hummus heaped onto sesame-speckled bread rings from a local Turkish market to realize I've just plain missed certain things.
Summer, in the rain.
But first I had to get used to stoplights again. By this I mean the stoplights keeping me from places I just have to get to by a certain time.  Because being in a hurry is a near-obligatory sub-clause of city life, and everyone's in a hurry here because we're all late because half of the transportation infrastructure in Amsterdam is under construction.  I only wish I was exaggerating.
The convertible mini cooper, in the rain.
Maybe you can't take the city out of the girl, not even after three years in what came tantalizingly close to southern French heaven.  (Oh, don't make me think of that garden I had to leave behind.) Here, there's just a rain-sodden terrace (a real luxury, should the un ever choose to shine again).  But the heels rise, the pants (and everything else) are tighter, and the wildness is found not beneath the scrub oak but rather in tribal-looking makeup and in that jaunty, sharp-hipped confidence of the (young) Dutch. Who are neck-twistingly taller than me, I must add.
The traffic, in the rain.

Good grief there's a lot of energy that gets burned in a move, lots of things happening at the same time and going in different directions.  Health insurance, a smooth transition for the kids, a coatrack (for all the raingear and coats in August/September). My thoughts are as jumbled as my files. Meanwhile, my to-do list is longer than a Dutchman's leg--and growing.  So this is partly why I haven't had really special photos to show you.  But it's been raining here, too.  A lot.  More than usual.  The rain barely pauses, and then only to switch to Chicago-style gusts of wind, because a proper Dutch day has all four seasons. And then some.  And oh, dear, I'd forgotten how to dress for this ongoing climatogical change; me and my silly, filmy, country summer wear.  But it's coming back to me.  And so is my affection for this laid-back, at times grouchy (can you blame them with this weather?), always engaging city.      


  1. Glad to hear you are getting settled in. Can't wait to see more....

  2. Non, je ne te dirai pas que c'est encore l'été ici, que les cèpes arrivent, que les châtaignes seront magnifiques, non je tairai tout cela pour t'enlever tout regret.......

  3. What a contrast! I'm glad to hear you're settling in though and finding your city feet (wellies).

  4. Recently when I was cleaning out my office, I stumbled upon a pack of receipts from the time I was in Amsterdam. Found a receipt for an Indonesian restaurant and can't remember dining there at all! I did remember fries with mayo though. And fighting with my friend about which direction to take to get to Van Gogh's museum. And her insistence on visiting Anne Frank's house on the last day because she didn't want to be depressed the whole time we were there. Oh, and so many other things I did in my short two-day stay there. Hope you're enjoying city life again.

  5. Hello Rose,
    We are settling in nicely, even if we do miss the south and our friends there. Luckily people still write!

    Salut Micheline,
    Mais franchement, tu as tout a fait raison: faut pas raconter de telles reves a une qui gele au Nord, m-m-m-mince alors!

    Hi Sarah,
    Wellies indeed. Ha! (Said grimly.)

    Hello WC,
    I love all the details packed into the memory of that stopover. The right Indonesian restaurant can be very good, though too many serve an overly rich sort of food that isn't really to my taste. My daughter will be visiting Anne Frank with her class later this year, in the context of their history class.


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