Praia da Marinha

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This cairn stood quietly along the path of the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk in Praia da Marinha, a silent invitation to stop and soak in the magnificence of this part of the world–

the imposing beauty of the Atlantic bathed in the sun’s splendor,
the gentle wind caressing the ocean’s surface,
the delicate scent of pine with a whiff of brine,
earth warm in color and feel under my shoes.

A part of me wanted to sit beside the stones and stare out to sea with the same stillness, but the path was calling.

A Love Song

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I discovered this wonderful love song De Appels op de Tafelsprei by Toon Hermans and sang by Mathilde Santing, a beautiful way to start the new year as a vow to my beloved.

Mijn liefdesliedje is gemaakt
Van lachjes die jij lacht
Van warme broodjes bij ‘t ontbijt
En kleine stukjes nacht
Van stiekem zitten kijken,
Ik naar jou en jij naar mij
En van de appels op de tafelsprei

Vier maten glimlach,
Vier maten droef
Vier maten sofa,
Vier maten poef
Vier maten blij zijn
En vier maten rouw
Dat is m’n liedje voor jou

Mijn liefdesliedje is gemaakt
Van schemerlicht en zon
Van kussens, warme dekens
In een ligstoel op bet balkon
Van kleine lieve woordjes
Die geen ander ooit zo zei
En van de appels op de tafelsprei

Vier maten winter,
Vier maten warm
Vier maten rijk zijn,
Vier maten arm
Vier maten mistig,
En vier maten blauw
Dat is m’n liedje voor jou

Mijn liefdesliedje is gemaakt
Van kleine stukjes zoen
En van papieren vliegers,
Kinderstemmen in het groen
Van bladeren van september
En een sterrennacht in mei
En van de appels op de tafelsprei

Vier maten heide,
Vier maten kust
Vier maten forte,
Vier maten rust
Acht maten liefste,
Vergeef het me nou…
Dat is m’n liedje voor jou…

… then comes December

DSC_1020This weekend was a wonderful one spent with good friends who live In the south of the Netherlands, near a city called Valkenburg. A visit to the oldest Christmas market in Europe was a must. In the subterranean labyrinth called the Velvet caves right under the castle ruins, the Christmas spirit was very much alive. With modern-day capitalism being practiced there, I could hardly imagine that 2,000 years ago, the Romans toiled deep in the earth to carve out the marl that they needed for their architectural endeavors above ground. I could hear Dutch, French, English and German being spoken, echoing in the stony passages. It was very special.

Weathering the Storm

The Netherlands experienced a very strong autumn storm yesterday with gale force winds of up to 11. Much damage has been left in its wake, people lost their lives, their homes, their property. Those traveling lost time since boats, planes and trains couldn’t make their scheduled runs. If you were by car, chances were you lost time too because of slow speeds and accidents on the road. A man on his bike nearly lost his life when a tree fell on his path but he ended up in between its branches. Not so for a woman who was walking by a canal in the city center, her tree was her fate.

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Yesterday

I’m one of the lucky ones. I could watch nature’s force in the comfort of my home. While working yesterday, I heard and saw the roof blew off from this industrial building across the canal.

And here we are now, the morning after. The wind is gentle, barely ruffling those leaves left on the trees which made it through the storm. The birds, who were in distress yesterday as they hid in bushes or sheltered under eaves, are back playing on this tree top outside my window.

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Today

Maybe it is not for me to ask why, why am I here? But to just be thankful that I have this day.

 

A Forest Meditation

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“Shall we meditate?” was what I said to hubby when I saw this bench in the woods last weekend. Not wanting to feel the questioning looks of passersby, I suggested to face the woods instead of the path.

The forest doesn’t question. It accepts my presence and what I do. It watches without judgment, just like it does for every living thing in it. It breathes in what I breathe out and I breathe in what it breathes out. The rustle of the leaves echo my thoughts which I release. Or does the act of releasing cause the rustling? I’m part of this forest, that’s what it’s telling me. The boundaries are all in my mind.

The timer went off. We stood up and moved on.

But the lesson remains.

Gordes

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Gorgeous Gordes! Perched on top of a mountain in the Luberon in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is this commune with a population of just over 2,000 people. The ride on the country roads from Marseille was full of curves, often steep, and oh-so-very-pretty as that legendary light so beloved by artists bathed the landscape with its hazy touch. At this time of year, there were not many tourists around and some shops were closed. But this is exactly how hubby and I like it so it was all for the best. The lovely lunch of white fish beurre blanc on the small village square was simple and scrumptious, and that lovely delicate rosé from the area is just like Provence itself – light, refreshing, with a perfume of fern, lemon and a touch of fruits. 

This trip has been a gentle reminder of how beautiful this part of Europe is. It’s been years since we’ve been back. I don’t want to stay away so long.

Route des Crêtes

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Reaching this place was an exercise to keep a promise, specifically, hubby’s promise to take me to this exact same spot which I saw in a photo of him with business colleagues. When I wheedled out that promise from him, I didn’t expect that driving up hairpin bends was something that I had to undergo to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Cassis near Marseille. A first for me was seeing people scaling a 394-meter sheer cliff. They had reached the top by the time I thought to take a photo. I had butterflies in my tummy and trembly feet just looking at them. For me, going a half meter away from the edge was only possible on my bum. Crawling on my hands and knees was not an option either because the ground was too rocky. What a wimp!

I will leave the heroic deeds to others. I came for the view and I got it. That plus the certainty that heights are heady but surfaces just a little bit above sea level are fine by me.