Saturday, March 01, 2008

Flowers and the Weather

One of the first signs of spring, for me, in Amsterdam is the crocuses. We have a patch in the square outside our apartment and they are all around the city, often poking their little blossoms through snow, if we have snow, which we usually don't. The ones near us are mostly purple and white, although there are yellow crocuses here and there. I love that they don't have to be planted every year, that they come up early, go away and spend the rest of the year preparing to come up again next year. Things may change in my life (my job, the number of hair follicles being magically transferred from my head to my back, my circle of friends) but those crocuses stay the same, and I like that.

One of my favorite spots in Amsterdam is the grove of trees I pass on the way to the Metro station near our house ( Zuid, which used to be called the WTC station, and still is by old timers like me). Here's a snap I took today with the crocuses this afternoon, a little beaten by the rain we had last night, but you can still see them in the picture. I sometimes refer to these lines of trees as "the plantation," as is reminds me of the lines of trees that are often on the roads leading to plantations in the Old South in the US. "The plantation" often falls flat to Fred's ears, as we've never been there together, but that's not the first quip I've made to him that he didn't understand, bi-cultural relationship that it is.

I was speaking to a friend on the phone the other day and she stopped and said, "Oh! There are so many flowers out. It's beautiful, isn't it?" It is indeed. Winter has been long and cold. I don't really mind the winter; I like the change. But when it's time to end, it's time to end.

Note to Winter: It's time to end.

Another flower I see quite a bit is the daffodils right off the bridge I cross on the way to the train station. It's almost a pity that these daffodils don't stay around longer, but there are always other flowers coming to take their place. Not in the same spot, but around the city. They're right by a canal with boats moored there, and there are sometimes birds. And I think, Wow. I live here. (That's the boy from Bedford, Texas talking.)

As I wrote, we had a heavy rain last night. The French doors that lead to our balcony sounded like there was a fire hose aimed at the window. (There was not.) It was heavy and woke us both up. It's usually comforting to me to hear a healthy rain and be in a warm bed with Fred. Last night was just disturbing. It felt like the windows were going to give way.

Fred said, "I'm going to go set that rosemary on the floor so that it doesn't get broken." (He says floor meaning ground and it's difficult to explain the difference when the "ground" is on the fifth floor.) He threw back the covers just as we heard a smash. We knew that the little red pot that held the rosemary bush would now be just a memory. And it was. Still, he went out and cleaned up. (Fred is the one they talk about when they talk about people rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Never hurts to spend a few minutes straightening things up.) When he got back into bed, I remarked on his powers of premonition. Or maybe he just understands that a strong wind and a potted plant on a table on the balcony are not a fair match.

Fred's off to Rotterdam today and I have the whole day to do what I want. The elevator is broken, so it'll mostly be indoor things. It's a beautiful day, but I can see it from here.

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