My husband and I lived in Amsterdam for a brief while. This is a city and a people where the second world war is still very close and very personal. We lived on Gerrit van der Veenstraat . Following the war the street was renamed after the resistance fighter Gerrit van der Veen . He was executed by the Gestapo. On this street there is a monument honouring him. I walked past it every day and always, always there were fresh flowers in the niche of the building.
At noon on the first Monday of every month the defence air raid siren would sound. Pedestrians would pause. Cyclists would dismount. Men would take off their hats. All were honouring those who gave their lives during the war.
To be a Canadian in Amsterdam is to be frequently thanked by strangers. The Dutch have not forgotten it was the Canadians who liberated Holland.
I discovered the red poppies. The poppies that grew in Flanders Field. The poppies despite the war ravaged land bravely showed their colours. I found them in vacant lots and bits of forgotten land. Anywhere these glorious flower could take root. It is understandable why these symbolic flowers are so important. We wear them over our hearts to show we remember.
I returned home with packages of Dutch red poppy seeds and year after year the poppies bloom in my garden. Of all the flowers in my garden it is the red poppy dearest to my heart.
In our life there is a single colour,
as on an artist’s palette,
which provides the meaning of life and art.
It is the colour of love.
(Marc Chagall, 1887 – 1985 – considered to be the quintessential Jewish artist of the TwentiethCentury)
I took this photograph in April 2004 at the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens, just outside Amsterdam.
It had been a dreary,wet, gray day, and it was drawing to a close. Living in Amsterdam my daughter introduced me to the custom of lighting candles to dispel the gloom.
I lit a great many candles today.
Suddenly the sun broke through the clouds and touched the mountains surrounding us. It was a moment that pierced the heart with joy.
The Good Husband and I raced down to the bottom of our road to the river, anxious to capture these fleeting moments of sunshine. We could see thundering storm clouds heading our way from the ocean. The wind whipped up white caps on river. It smelt of snow.
Shivering in the cold I happily captured this moment of light.
We prefer to do most of our shopping in our little village. We support local businesses. There is a small store that makes it a joy to buy groceries. It’s Budget Foods. Budget Foods is more than its name. On their shelves I can find food from Holland. Items I was used to shopping for at Albert Heign in Amsterdam are to be found on Budget’s shelves. I don’t need to make the long drive to the Italian area in Vancouver for canned tomatoes and olive oil and vinegars. The produce section delivers different vegetables; vibrant dark green kale, swiss chard shot through with fiery red, and today’s surprise petite lettuces (petites laitues rouges et vertes). Three kinds of miniature lettuce in one package.
I hadn’t seen miniature lettuce since Paris. The mouth-watering jewel-like displays of miniature vegetables; ruby radishes, emerald lettuce, filgrees of green onions were a delight to behold. Today I found miniature lettuce in Ladner. Petites laitues rouges et vertes; petite laitue Tango, petite sucrine, petite feuille de chê ne ( Red and Green Petite Lettuces – petite tango, petite gem, petite oak) perfect greens for tonight’s salad.
MIXED GREEN SALAD
You’ll need an assortment of salad greens and a hard-boiled egg chopped.
For the Vinaigrette
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Whisk together all the ingredients and toss with the salad. Sprinkle the chopped egg in a line across the top of the salad.
To make the perfect hard boiled egg refer to HOW TO EAT AN EGG in a soon to be written blog. Use the same procedure but leave the egg (eggs) in the hot water for around 10 minutes, then run cold water over them. Using this method you will always have tender whites and yolks. Bon Appetit!
It was a damp December morning in Amsterdam. Daughter Roxanne and I caught the tram to Dam Square and the Kalverstraat. We were shopping for Christmas decorations and decided the big Blockers store would fill our shopping bags. We loved shopping at Blockers, good stuff at good prices. There was a small Blockers in our neighborhood (Beethovenstraat) but we wanted to see the Decorations and just enjoy being out and about at Christmas. And Blockers is where I found these exquisite birds. You can never have too many birds on your Christmas Tree.
One more memory on our Christmas Tree.