Outside. The outdoors or in Dutch buitenorhet buitenleven.Buitenleven literally means outside living. The Dutch love the outdoors. No matter what the weather you will see the Dutch spending time outside (granted in cooler weather that means slightly less people outside). So “buitenleven” is an accurate descriptor for the Dutch. In warmer weather sidewalks and streets are crammed with people: walking, biking, and sitting in cafes. Actually if the weather is nice no one* sits indoors at cafes. This is one of my favorite things about the Dutch.
Through the Dutch ardor for the outdoors I have rediscovered my own enjoyment of being outside. Feeling the breeze on my face, stopping to admire the hue of flowers, or just enjoying the smell of the outdoors. This summer I have enjoyed het buitenleven: walking, gardening (ok so I enjoy the end result), boating, or otherwise relaxing. And I intend to enjoy a lot more.
*Slight exaggeration but not too far from the truth.
So I have been very remiss in working on my garden for a variety of reasons. However, now I am starting to work on it so the past doesn’t matter. Except that it does matter because that means I have more weeds to remove. This week I picked up weedkiller, a couple garden tools, and some potting soil. Tucked away in the shed I found a large watering can, some empty planters, a hoe, and a rake.
If you want a reminder of the garden before here it is:
Below are my current improvements to some eyesores before I get into the weeds.
Unfortunately, the table isn’t mine (part of the house we are renting) so I can’t refinish it. My solution: buy a bright table cloth to put over top.
The garden was lacking seating so I grabbed two plastic chairs from inside. A friend very kindly dropped off a lounge chair she is no longer using. Boom! Now Mike and I can eat or read in the garden.
I tossed broken pots and dead plants. The empty pots are now home to my herbs (so far I only have mint and coriander since I use those the most).
So this week I have been babysitting* an awesome little girl (she is about a year old) while her mother learns Dutch. This week has been so much fun! At the beginning of the week, I found I was speaking to the girl in half-Dutch half-English. Now I talk to her almost completely in Dutch; sometimes she responds ja or nee. Like me, she enjoys books so I have read to her in Dutch. I have even tried to sing to her in Dutch, although I forgot half the words to the song- oops. (I did remember a carol in German – that is close to Dutch, right? – so I sang that too.)
Several days this week we have gone out to the heath. The girl really enjoys looking at trees and flowers while she is in her stroller. For those of you unfamiliar with Dutch strollers, the stroller wheels are pretty thick and well-treaded so they go fairly easily over sand, grass, rocks etc. The Dutch enjoy being out in nature so they make sure they can bring their kids with them.
In one area of the heath, there is a kinderboerderij (similar to the stadsboerderij). Sadly, she wasn’t very happy to see the animals.
I am sad that tomorrow is my last day watching her.
*Actually co-babysitting with another woman. Having another person is helpful.