The chair I posted Wednesday comes from a surprising stadstuin (city garden) that we visited the other week during Open Monuments Day. The original garden space belonged to the home of the local notary, dating back to 1860. Over the years, the neighbors joined together to create a larger combined garden space, with various pools, ponds, covered seating areas, and attractive garden arrangements.
Today, I’ll focus on a couple of the gazebo-like seating areas that I found particularly charming. I think one of the reasons I liked this whole garden area and the seating areas is because it all reminded me of some of the gardens I remember in Florida. If not specific gardens, at least a general atmosphere, especially with the slightly overgrown and slightly wild elements of the garden, paired with the slightly shabby, decaying furnishings. In all, it made me think of Southern Gothic in its most gloriously dishevelled sense.
On a warm, humid day, where the air is oppressive, you’d escape to these dark, shadowy corners of this garden, taking a seat that is vaguely damp to the touch, with a perfume in the air of fabric starting to mold and thick vegetation slowly decaying. It’s a heady aroma that is both off-putting yet somehow comforting.
To be honest, some of these more pleasant areas make me think of visiting my great-grandmother in Maitland, Florida, with this particular room bringing memories of “The Wee Hoose”. There may have been nothing similar at all, but it was that house and the land around it that most came to mind as I wandered through this garden.
As much as I feel at home here in Utrecht and in Nederland in general, sometimes I have those moments of feeling very far from home. But then I haven’t lived anywhere that has resonated with me in the sense of “home” for a long time. There’s something about Florida (and to a certain degree, New Orleans) that will always feel like home to me. Perhaps a lot of it is just the scenery you remember from your childhood that is imprinted upon you. There are certain sights, sounds, and smells that trigger those (hopefully) happy memories of childhood and make you feel calm and at peace. There was something about this garden and these gloriously decorated garden nooks that made me feel at home.
Until I saw the klompen (clogs). Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Florida any more.