As June is coming to a close it is time to update my Hummm… most of these come from the last part of our Minnesota vacation but we had a couple that snuck into file since our return. We never know when those things that make us go Hummm… will appear! Enjoy!
** What has made you stop in your tracks this month and made you ask Hummm…?
Aalsmeer. This morning the water was like glass when we pushed off from the beach at Aalsmeer and paddled to the Historic Garden to volunteer.
We were the only watercraft on the water as we headed into the harbor area of Aalsmeer.
Once at the garden we were put to work fertilizing the garden. Each plant got some boost of fertilizer that will help it get a good start of nutrition for the season.
Once done with our task we headed back out onto the water. Now pushing against a headwind my muscles told me that this short paddle was longer than I wanted it be. The first paddle of the season always shows me that I was a bit lazy during the winter.
Warning from the local Great Blue Heron should have been my first clue that we were heading towards another limited lockdown.
After my return from the United States I was finally starting to feel like we were returning to some pre-COVID normal here in The Netherlands.
I was off to my volunteer job at the Historic Gardens at Aalsmeer every Friday. Taking the bus from my house each time and pushing down some anxiety the bus was full of wall to wall people riding to and from their daily jobs. Masks were still mandatory in the public transport, and the Dutch (who don’t normally chat on public transport) seemed liberated after so long of being sequestered at home, passengers chatted with everyone. On once such bus ride I chatted with a lady who works at the airport who was going back to her sales job for the first time in a year and half. She told me she was nervous but happy that she still had a job. I felt the same way about my volunteer job!
Never a lack of work at the Historic Garden, I was put to work weeding, planting and separating plants for the next season. I always doubt my abilities of my work as I am surrounded by giants of the plant industry. Mostly men who owned and worked the soil of the Aalsmeer plant industry for years before retirement. Now volunteering their skill sets to the preservation of old horticultural skills. I look forward to learning so much each day I volunteer.
The thing I realize each time I volunteer is that work, hard manual work is how humans existed for centuries before the modern age. That those skills are being lost with each passing day when those skills are not learned by generations who have only grown up in the modern age, in front of a computer or TV.
Then COVID hit here once again knocking us all back into a limited lockdown. We are all strongly encouraged to work from home, limit our social contacts, wear a mask everywhere again.
I know that COVID has been hard for most people. The mental anguish for most people of not being able to gather with family and friends at any given moment is difficult.
But, maybe it was a message from Mother Earth that we all needed. That our 24/7/365 world is not sustainable.
What to do with all this time now that we have been given? Here it is three weeks. 3 December, if anyone is keeping exact track of the timeline for this current outbreak.
I am thankful in many ways of my agricultural roots I grew up with. In times of distress on a farm, you just pick up and keep going. Life and death is part of the farm cycle. The change of seasons and the hard work that continues. I never remember having much time to sit and worry about what was next. Heaven forbid if we as children uttered the “I am bored…” words as we instantly found ourselves not bored doing some really crappy task.
One of my Dutch friends thinks I grew up like Laura Ingalls Wilder, she isn’t far from the truth. No running indoor water or toilet with only wood heat for the house. The one thing Laura Ingalls didn’t have was over 100 head of sheep to care for during the year. The year long work even in the -40 temps of Northern Minnesota! Plus, I don’t ever remember Laura Ingalls being told to go clean the crap in the barn due to the fact that she was bored.
When the government announced our lockdown again due to the explosion of COVID cases I pulled out one of my old skill sets I learned as a young person, spinning. Filling my days with making wool yarn with the ancient drop spindle.
The result was something I can feel and see with my own hands. A sense of accomplishment in the world of COVID chaos.
Not a huge accomplishment. It won’t replace the joy I get in volunteering at the Historic Garden, but it is a good filler for the time I now have to stay at home.
I hope that each of my readers are also finding ways to move forward in all this chaos.
The hardest part of the year was not kayaking. This blog is about how on Wednesday I had my first kayak paddle of the season and most likely the last kayak paddle of the season.
I don’t have a Dutch drivers license. I am at the liberty of the Hubby’s time availability for getting to a kayak location. After our weekend canoe paddle in the Weerribben I knew needed to find my way into the water in my kayak for a day. Kayaking was my first love and it was part of my PTSD therapy recovery plan. The healing properties of water and nature are well documented and amazing. I needed some “me” time.
I arranged to be dropped off at my favorite local lake, the Westeinder in Aalsmeer. We have featured this lake several times before on this blog. It was the training lake where the Hubby and I spent several days paddling in preparation for our BWCA trip, three years ago.
The fall days are getting shorter. The Hubby dropped me and my equipment off at the beach before the sunrise.
As I waited I had a very friendly goose approach me.
I had enough equipment for a five day trip but the plan was only to paddle to the Historic Garden in Aalsmeer where I volunteer. My first visit to the garden since April.
I always get a bit of a thrill when my kayak hits the water for the first time in a season. I am always a little nervous. The weather, wind, and muscles all have to once again tune into each other. It is like meeting an old friend after not seeing them for awhile. Excitement and also caution as you know it has been awhile since your last solo paddle. Plus, kayaking is not canoeing.
As I paddled from lake into harbor the sun was changing the reflections and sky as the seconds ticked passed. I pulled around the corner to find the sun putting on a spectacular display of color as it crested above the horizon.
In my own special place, alone on the water, I thanked the heavens for health and ability to paddle. To be able to experience this special place in this time, even though it has contained such heartbreak and misery for so many all over the world.
As I entered the canal that takes me directly to the Historic Garden I was reminded of my mantra… Carpe Diem.
I silently slowly paddled my way closer to the garden so my arrival time at the garden would be timed perfectly. I knew the garden bridge over the canal opened at 8 am. My timing was perfect as I was greeted by one of my co-volunteers lowering the bridge.
Pulling my kayak onto dry land my co-worker greeted me and jokingly asked if I paddled all the way from the USA.
I laughed, “nope just from the lake beach“.
I sat and had my coffee then toured around the gardens. I trimmed and deadheaded the roses for the first time this year. Then the day outing was over as the Hubby returned to pick me and the equipment up.
Sadly, this might have been the last day this year I would have an opportunity to kayak. Who knows what the coming days or weeks will bring?
My last thought on First and Last…today 28 years ago my first son was born in the shadow of Mount Rainer in Washington State. Happy Birthday son!
I did mix Dutch and English a bit in this title. I played with the two languages and a play on the words time and thyme (a garden plant). Hopefully it didn’t confuse my readers too much.
We headed out on Friday (the Hubby took a day off, he is working from home so this time outside of the house was needed. It felt like a day off for both of us) to Aalsmeer to the Historische Tuin (Historic Garden) where I normally volunteer each summer.
As you might have guessed normal is not normal and volunteer work is also affected. The issue with gardens that depend almost solely on volunteer workers to maintain the areas is that the garden (nature) doesn’t know there is a lurking virus. The workers (volunteers) are mostly over the age of 65 and thus puts them into the high risk group. Since I have underlying conditions that could also place me in a higher risk group, I contacted the manager in early March and told him that I would not be coming to volunteer until the rules were relaxed a bit.
This is how I social distance from the Hubby
That started to happen today. All grade school children to age 12 went back to school! Could you hear the sigh of relief from parents? The Dutch ministry is going step by step on reopening the country. The biggest near future issues that need to be solved will be with public transport, the aviation industry, and large events like soccer games or music concerts.
I made an appointment to tour the garden and take some pictures for this blog. Being the only one (with the Hubby) inside the gardens was a real treat since we haven’t been out much since this all started in March. The gardens have been working with a small skeleton crew of regular volunteers since the Prime Minister shut the country down. Some activities like the yearly plant sale were cancelled. But, like I stated, the garden continues to need attention and I was ready to see how bad things were with the limited work force.
Oh NO! He found me!!!
I was surprised! It wasn’t the normal for this time of the year but it was in great shape considering the limits that were placed on this institution with the start of the virus.
Inside one of the green houses that was newly remodeled.
Here are a few of the pictures of the gardens as it looks right now. There is not a date as of right now if or when it will be opened to the public, but when it does I would like to ask each of you (if possible) to visit.
Inside another newly remodeled green house these clematis were mostly lost two winters ago do to the poor conditions in the dated greenhouses. Now they are flourishing in this new environment.
The greenhouse rose gardens are in full bloom.
A sample of the greenhouse roses.
One of the hundreds of Lilacs in full bloom
One of my favorites as it reminds me of Minnesota, Iris in full bloom.
Flowers and Thyme
As we finished with our photo tour the Hubby and I ordered “take away” coffee and scones from the Historische Tuin Restaurant which has had to find a new way to keep in business while still maintaining social distancing. We enjoyed the backdrop of the Aalsmeer windmill and watched the boats on the canal as we sat on the bench outside the Historische Tuin. It was a perfect outing for a day off of work in these strange new times.
A special thanks to Historische Tuin Garden Manager, Dick Maarsen who approved my afternoon of photojournalism at the Historische Tuin. He and his team of limited volunteers will continue to maintain the gardens until they reopen sometime in the future.