Apocalyptic Skies and a Banana

Good ol’ Dutch weather. Sometimes it changes from one day to the next, other times it changes from one minute to the next. Mercurial easily defines the weather of the past few weeks in Utrecht, when we’ve had a stunning mix of sun and clouds, often at the same time. Today we’ve got ridiculously high winds that even managed to open our front door! (The locks are now firmly in place.)

We’ve had quite a few days of clear blue skies, without a cloud in sight, which are always a joy to see.
blue skies
And then we’ve had days with apocalyptic clouds paired with crisp sunlight.
clouds and sun
Sometimes you get a mix, depending on whether you’re looking east or west. These two photos were taken seconds apart in front of our restaurant on Biltstraat, looking right (east) and then looking left.
light and dark

And when you start to get acclimated to the bizarre weather and think you won’t see anything strange, nature pulls another trick from her sleeve: the banana bush!
banana bush

Sun vs Clouds

sun vs clouds

Sorry for the blog silence this week. I’ve been a bit caught up in some other work and just couldn’t bear to try to wrangle any more words. I did head out today to get some more gargoyle photos and couldn’t resist a few cloud photos, as well. It wasn’t quite as dark as the photo makes it out to be, but there was some impressive cloud coverage battling with the sun that was making a valiant effort to break through. The clouds won, but the show the two put on was worth seeing. Of course, I have a fondness for a nice natural silhouette like this. Hopefully, you do too!

sun vs clouds

Focus on the Positive

I’m in a lousy mood for no reason, so I’m trying to focus on the positives of this week.
First off was a lovely walk with Pippo last Sunday. While out and about, I saw this cool bit of graffiti.
Would You Like To Play A Game?

On Wednesday, I got to meet up with A Georgia Peach and catch up and just generally have a lovely time while sitting on the terras at the Vismarkt on the Oudegracht.
Drinks at the Vismarkt

On the way home, I picked up some more purple tulips to cheer things up. Gotta love getting four bunches for only €5!

And finally, to go along with the beautiful blue skies and spring weather, there were some really pretty cloud patterns this week.

Dutch Light

Piercing the Clouds
I know I’ve posted other photos here of these fantastic skies of both brilliant sunshine and dark clouds. We get it a lot here — more than I remember seeing it up and down the East Coast of the US — and it always takes my breath away. If I see light like this, I can’t help but reach for my camera so that I can go back and enjoy it any time I want. It’s almost thrilling, as you wonder what direction the weather will take. Fierce storms or lazy sunny days?

Recently, while visiting the Mauritshuis museum in Den Haag, I was thrilled by one of the Vermeer paintings they had on display. It wasn’t the Girl With A Pearl Earring that gave me a frisson of pleasure and recognition; it was his View of Delft.

As soon as I saw those dark clouds hovering over the lighter cityscape, I understood exactly what he was depicting. I’ve seen it so often since moving here! Despite having yet to visit Delft, I still recognized this image so perfectly. The photos don’t do justice to the actual painting and the glow it seems to emit in person.

If you’re visiting the Netherlands, Den Haag is worth a visit, as is the Mauritshuis Museum. Even if you’re not overly interested in art, it’s a small enough collection to be easily manageable. I spent a lot of time looking at individual pieces and going back to certain ones, but even I managed to make my way through the whole museum in just a couple of hours. The current exhibit of Jan Steen’s work is highly enjoyable, and they have restoration experts there in the museum working on a painting during some of the hours of opening, so you can see the work in person. And see for yourself the beauty of Vermeer’s View of Delft. You may well recognize that magnificent glow, as well.

ETA: I was just checking my blog’s stats and noticed that someone got here by looking up the term “wild and woolly weather”. I realized that I have a post by that very name, and sure enough, it’s one of the posts where I discuss just this kind of light!

Celebrating the Sunset

On the Way to Oudewater
Friday night we went to Oudewater for a delicious dinner with friends. On the way there, I couldn’t help but notice the sunset. I don’t get to see much of one nowadays, because of the buildings surrounding us, so I really enjoyed seeing this beautiful mix of clouds and glowing sun. It also made me think of this blog post by Aledys Ver, with the lovely idea of viewing a sunset as a performance: cheering when it’s good and demanding your money back when it’s bad. I think this one definitely deserved a cheer.
Burning Through

Utrecht Daily Photo

Having completed Project 365, I think my new photo project for this year will be a daily photo of Utrecht. The catch is that I mean I will post a photo of the city here on my blog every day, not that I will take a photo of the city every day. I know just from last year that that’s just not realistic. However, I do tend to take a lot of photos at a time when I specifically head out to photograph the city, so the extras should carry me over on the days I’m not inclined to head outdoors for whatever reason. Of course, I figure this is also a good excuse to head out to areas I haven’t visited as often.

Today’s photo was taken today, and carries over from yesterday’s Domtoren shot. The fog from yesterday disappeared — perhaps burnt off by all the fireworks last night — and we’ve had a day of sunshine and blue skies contrasted against sunshine and dark clouds. It’s one of those classic Dutch skies where there’s a bit of everything all at once. I’ve photographed them before and couldn’t resist some of the shots today. I went with this shot, since I figured it was good to start the year off — and a new project — with the Domtoren in some form. After all, this is a series of photos of Utrecht, and the Domtoren is Utrecht’s most recognizable symbol.

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! Happy New Year!

Weather With You

I’ve had stuff to blog about the past few days, but I’ve lacked the motivation to do it. Maybe tomorrow, in between cooking the turkey and dressing and other Thanksgiving dishes, I’ll manage to post about what I got up to this past Saturday. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos of the crazy skies we get here in town sometimes. In one part of the sky, it looks like a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Then when you turn around, there’s such a solid, grey mass of cloud that it looks like one of those giant alien space ship invasions!

We’ve got a possibility of snow arriving this Friday. There’s talk that this winter may be similar to last winter, with the unexpectedly high amounts of snow all winter. It’s a good thing I got some new boots! I hope you’re having nice weather wherever you are today and that you have a tasty Thanksgiving tomorrow if you’re celebrating.


Pretty Clouds [Day 109/365]
So, yes, if you’re trying to get in or out of Europe, you’re probably not having much luck unless you’re going by boat, as my parents wisely decided to do (for unrelated reasons). There seems to be an unpronounceable volcano spewing masses of ash (es in Dutch) all over Europe. I must say, though, the name of that volcano suddenly makes Dutch seem downright makkelijk (easy)!

One of the jokes is that this is Iceland’s revenge for the UK and Netherlands trying to get their money back after the IceSave disaster. I’m sure all the people stranded aren’t really seeing the humor in the situation at the moment. For the rest of us not effected, the only immediate impact is that the skies are now free of airplane vapor trails, leaving the clouds to flit and feather their way across the sky unimpeded. With the bonus of the beautiful weather we’ve been having, it’s really quite gorgeous outside.

There might have been a very thin coat of ash on the car when we went out today, but it could also just be normal grime. Hard to tell, since we don’t use the car much. We headed out to Gamma to pick up some materials to fix the holes in our living room wall and ceiling. On our way there, we passed the windmill in town, so I decided to get a shot, especially since they seem to have rotated the twirly bit around to the opposite side. With the feathery clouds in the background and the beautiful blue sky, it was an easy choice as my photo for today in the Project 365.

Moon and Mars

Despite being in the city center, we were able to get a glimpse of Mars Friday night. The fact that it was snowing was the bigger problem in getting a clear view, since the clouds were being a bit obstructive. As you can see, I got a few shots after we came home from the Potdeksel. The blurriness has more to do with my lack of a tripod than how much I drank. Promise. I have a few other shots that are a bit crisper, but I liked the glow in the clouds on this one. There was a nice ring of red in the clouds around the moon, and if you look closely (or look at the bigger versions of the photos, you can see Mars making an appearance on the upper left side of the moon. In one article I read about Mars’ appearance, they said that it should be about the distance of an outstretched fist, and sure enough, even in my photos, that’s pretty much spot on!

The Sonnenborgh Observatory here in town does viewings on Friday and Saturday nights. That was probably the place to be on Friday. Too bad I only remembered this now. 😉