2020, what a strange year. The world is slightly altered, the streets are calm, quiet, and basically deserted. Looking down the street all the stores and restaurants are closed, the people are on lockdown. But mother nature is still budding. It is as if the flowers, the trees, the wildlife missed the lockdown notice as they continue to thrive, blossom, explode with color even though many won’t wander too far to enjoy the sheer beauty of them.
You can feel spring in the air as nature starts to awaken shaking off the wintry spell. The trees are bursting with fresh green leaves, springs flowers are budding up from the soil opening up as if to hug the sun, and birds young are hatching as you can hear the sweet chirps of the younglings wafting softly from the tress.
This luxury of color as the flowers find their petals is not unusual for spring here in the Netherlands, but this year with the closure of parks and flower gardens the usual flood of on-watchers has ceased. Even the beloved Keukenhof is off-limits to the public.
Though parks are off-limits, nature still surrounds us on our daily walks. Our conversations are full of the delicate beauty of nature, the explosion of colors it offers the dreary backdrop of a quiet town. We have begun to notice the small things that surround us, the soft chirps of younglings, things that we used to take for granted running from place to place, missing all the life that surrounds us as we go. Strange as it may sound, the slow pace has awakened us to the sweetness of rebirth as the spring colors burst out to meet us.
As we stroll along the canals, the wildflowers are in full bloom even the Tulips, which are Holland’s famous flower, are in full bloom. The vibrant purples, pinks, yellows, and even oranges burst at you as you walk along.
But the waterway is home to much more than these beautiful colors as a variety of bird’s flock in making their home along the canal. We have seen a variety of gulls lingering along the canals, the black-headed gull, the herring gull, the black-backed gull. But the gulls are not alone as you can spot the Mallard and Muscovy ducks paddling along the water, then gliding along the edge of the canal are the coots, the swans, and the geese. Spring brings around the rebirth of nature as the flowers bloom and the baby birds begin to pop their heads out.
Spring though brings more than the rebirth of nature. This is a time for children to come out and play with friends, however, with the lockdown they must find new ways to entertain and enrich their time away from friends. We have come across many beautiful images drawn in chalk as the children spend their time outside drawing as a form of expression. The colors seem to add a pop of personality to the surroundings.
Spring in the Netherlands is a beautiful time the colors, the nature, and you cannot forget the Dutch community coming together to celebrate Kings Day (Koningsdag). This is a magical citywide carnival which in a typical year would attract millions of onlookers to the streets and canals, painting the city with orange as party boats, street parties, house parties fill up the town with celebration.
This year, though, is different. Everything is different with the world on lockdown, and all the festivities being canceled. But though this year looks different, the people found a way to come out and celebrate the King. Most of them stayed right in front of their homes, throwing a mini party. The coronavirus has stopped the annual celebration in its track, but it cannot stop the spirits of the citizens from celebrating within their own homes.
Spring this year is unlike the many visits of seasons past. I love the springtime here, but this was an off-year. It was missing the liveliness of interaction. I missed the people seeking out the rays of sunshine, strolling in Amsterdam’s parks and terraces. The beauty of Amsterdam has always been nature and its people.