Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spring has Sprung

A beautiful spring has turned into summer here. I've seen flowers blossom and every type of bird and animal had babies. I started attending the Dutch language and culture school - it's close to the end of the school year - but there's still a few more weeks to go before summer holiday.

I've also been busy with work; doing script coverage, writing animation and feature film scripts as well as developing a screenwriting website. So free time has been somewhat limited. But, I did manage to get a few pictures along the way to share.

First are the flowers. These are all local, just around the neighborhood. I don't know exactly what each type is, and a photo can't bring you the perfume that fills the air.

I suppose because I don't see that well, I am more sensitive to the scents of spring, the soft touch of the breeze that always has a bit of ocean to it. We're so close to the sea here, and ride along the big dikes whenever we can.

The photos above are from our garden. Jeroen's hand was broken and in a cast for a long time. Don't look to me to mow the grass or anything like manual labor. So a bit of a jungle grew up in the back. And you know what? I don't care. Where other people might see weeds, I see beauty. Our tulips from last year came up again too.

These two photos are from right next to the house. There are canals everywhere 'round here. I get to walk or ride on the motorcycle, so I really notice what's here. We don't have a car, so we're sorta accidentally living green. We walk to the grocery (or rode the tandem until it too broke) every day or two. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog about the food here. It doesn't have all the preservatives that US food has. They are all a bit shocked that Americans can go only once a week to the grocery. You can buy vegetables back in the US that last for weeks! I suppose that sounds kinda sci-fi to a Dutchie. Freaky long-lasting fruits and veggies.

These are the real flowers, grown by professionals. I couldn't decide which images I liked best, so I'm putting up a bunch.

There's me and Jeroen too. There's an old saying, something along the lines of "take the time to stop and smell the flowers" or roses. I don't think it's meant to be taken literally, but in this case it works. Many of us are so focused on the goals in life, that we miss the journey along the path. A lot of people like myself tend to see what we haven't done, or focus on the things not accomplished. How many of us keep a to-do list that never seems to be completed? It seems kinda silly that one has to "make the time" to go outside and just look around.

There are so many more baby animals I saw when I didn't have a camera. They have tons of miniature horses here. They call them ponies, but they are teenie tiny horses. Of course I saw a miniature horse baby - literally the size of a large dog. Boy was that cute! Sorry I missed getting that in a photo. Every life form had babies this spring. Lots of pregnant women around too. Not me, of course, just mentioning that.

Our friend Krul lives in Hoorn, which is pretty close by and a good-sized city. He's been in hospital recently, having spinal surgery on a triple hernia. He's doing okay now, but no bike riding for a while. It was really bad for a bit, but he was always in good spirits. While we visited him, I took photos around his place. The details on the buildings amaze me. What's really neat to me, is that most of the places here pre-date the USA by quite a few years. When nearly everything around you was built in the 1600s or before, maybe it doesn't seem that special. To me it's amazing. These aren't preserved historical monuments, they are just regular buildings around town.

This is the street my friend lives on. No wonder I'm having trouble pronouncing Dutch names! And yes, they would win in Scrabble every time.

Downtown Hoorn, evening rush hour time.

Also downtown Hoorn.

The sun was starting to go down, so it's a bit misty but we're still in downtown.

A typical Dutch city street, around dinner time.

Finally, another memorial. I've written before about the ability of the Dutch to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives for the people here.

Below are photos of the memorial to a few members of the 49th Squadron Royal Air Force who died in WWII. The whole story is here: Berkhout, Holland

In 2007 the local municipality ordered the excavation of the site where they were shot down, and a funeral with honors was was held for two of the men in 2008. It's 2009, and there are flowers being left and still people stopping to honor those who fought and died before I was born. The four men were between the ages of 20 and 28. Maybe in heaven they know that they are not forgotten. Life goes on here, much as it ever was, and only because so many people from other places came to the aid of the Dutch. Every name, every place, we will remember.

To leave off with something else, here are a few photos from a recent bike bash. I took some time off to go and just... relax. No work, no Internet.

Just good fun, and good people.

If you click on the photo to make it larger, I think you can see what it says on his jacket. There are quite a few Christian bikers. Also - my favorite - a guy whose jacket said "Free Biker." I thought that was like, a gratis biker. I asked if we could take him home, but apparently he wasn't really free to just anyone.

A nice bike riding through a village, and a typical town street. That's a two-way road, and mid-day traffic.

My good friend, Senor Fuego - he's the best person to talk to. He knows everything! Oh, and my view from the ride along a highway. Cool, eh?

How the day ends at a bike bash. Rest easy tonight ya'll. And remember to enjoy your summer! :)

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