As the Northern Hemisphere descends towards Winter, through the Fall, this image speaks to the renewal of Spring. CIA took this photo of the bulbs which spring up everywhere in the Netherlands as the snow melts, and the sun starts to make itself felt.
Photo by CIA, near Da Kooi; we were completely surprised when this otherwise ordinary stretch of public space was suddenly transformed into this verdant field of flowers.
Weekly Photo Challenged?
The transition from living in Leiden, back to New Zealand, is going slowly but surely. We’re still to get hooked up to the internet, which means posting on foldedcranes is a little tricky these days. But we are looking forward to getting back into our daily writing routine soon, soon. Today though, here are a few photos captured on our second to last day in Leiden. The sun shone, the canals sparkled, and the sight of the windmill became more important in my mind, knowing that where I was heading, 30 hours flight away, there’d be no windmills – well, none like this one, at least.
Molen de Valk standing proudly over Leiden
The photo below is one of the last shots of the Dutch landscape I took before our departure from the Netherlands. I snapped it on my phone out the window of an intercity train from Leiden, eindbestemming Den Haag Centraal (please excuse the graininess caused by the window). It captures well the feature of the landscape in the Netherlands that makes it so completely different to what we are used to in New Zealand (and particularly in Wellington): it is flat as far as the eye can see, not a hill – or even a hint of undulation – apparent. Fences are unnecessary on farms, as the small canals act as demarcating lines, mostly straightened through human intervention. On clear days, you can see to the next – or the next after the next – city or town, its skyline popping up in the distance. That always seemed quite amazing to me. As our time living in the Netherlands passed, we became accustomed to this flatness, but it never seemed normal or natural to either PJD or me. PJD recently chatted with an Aucklander who had spent time in the Netherlands on vacation, and who found the flat nature of the land, devoid of hills or mountains, made him feel distinctly unsettled, irritable. Neither of us had such a strong reaction, but as we travelled in Europe, we always found ourselves strangely excited to land in a place where we had to climb up slight (London, for example), or even extreme inclines (Barcelona, Luxembourg). We reacted excitedly to anecdotes of being able to find hills in the Netherlands as if they had some mythical quality (yes, they do exist, but you have to travel to Limburg to find them!).
Now that we are back in Wellington, hills are on the horizon in every direction that they eye can see. In contrast to where we have been, they are a novelty; at the same time though, they are comforting and familiar (not sure if the comfort factor will remain once we start climbing them again!). They bring a drama and variation to the land which I have missed. Soon enough, I’ll get some pictures up to show you what I mean. For now though, a part of me certainly does miss the serene flat fields of the Netherlands.
Photo by CIA between Leiden and Den Haag, the Netherlands, 19 September 2012.
It won’t be our garden for very much longer, and we will miss it so much. But these shots show how spectacular it can look at night-time.
The Hofje by Night.
The quiet of the garden belies the chaos of the packing inside the hofje
Eerily Awesome Atmosphere
Everything’s so green
Photos by PJD, September 2012. Captions by CIA. Late night packing still in progress. (Help?)
On our way home one night, we caught this picture. Some might say we made it, or took it. The particular verb is probably less important than the subject, which, given our current circumstances, feels apt. Everyday life?
Life is fast-paced, life is commuting, life is sometimes out of focus (and clarity is better seen in restrospect); life is changing, everyday life is bright, exciting and dynamic.
And soon we will be moving away from here as surely as the tram which you can’t quite see in the picture.
Photo by PJD, Station Amsterdam Centraal, August 2012.
This is just around the corner from where we live, and the wall is frequently updated with new graphics. The number of surrounding bikes never cease to amaze me, and I am increasingly concerned about the stability of that wall… The contrast of the derelict building which provides the canvas for this graffiti in the foreground stands out in stark contrast to the shiny new building in the background. I also like that whoever is behind this graffiti couldn’t contain it to the wall, can you spot what I mean?
Photos by CIA, Leiden, September 2012.
The Netherlands goes to the polls today, with an early general election following the collapse of the coalition government in April this year. Will the country experience a swing to the left? It’s looking likely, but there may be as many as three parties in the new coalition government, if pre-election polls are proven right. As I was walking through Leiden this morning, on the Rapenburg I passed a stembureau (polling booth) which looked like it had attracted a voter of a different kind…
Photo by CIA, 12 September 2012, Leiden, the Netherlands.