Shades of Winter

It’s been a strange winter so far. While friends and family in North America are dealing with polar vortexes, our winter in the Netherlands has been downright “meh”. Relatively warm, often grey, occasionally bright and sunny … it hasn’t really felt like winter. The meh weather has lead to my own meh attitude that has left me feeling uninspired and hermit-like.

Today is one of those grey days that are ever so slightly misty, but not dramatically so. Still, I was feeling restless and needed to clear the cobwebs from my head before getting back to work writing, so G and I went together to take care of some recycling and grocery shopping, taking the long way around.

As we walked along behind the stadsschouwburg (city theater), I decided to get a shot of the distinctive rooftop of one of the apartment buildings nearby. I knew I had a similar shot taken a few years ago, also in January, but on a drastically different kind of day. Today, the rooftop just looked grey and a bit grubby as it seemed to blend with the sky. In 2010, when I took the previous shot, it was almost blindingly white, shining brightly against a pure blue sky. I think I’ll focus on the old photo and try to get some blue sky cheer to cancel out the winter doldrums.

Winter Grey
Patterns - Day 3/365

The Stop Not Taken

Dusk in Utrecht
Yesterday, on the bus home from the train station, I pondered getting off a stop early and having a short walk through a picturesque section of the neighborhood. But the cold made me reconsider and I thought I’d just get off at my normal stop. Except the bus didn’t stop there. I was taking a different bus than usual, so I’m not sure if it normally doesn’t stop there, but fortunately it didn’t go that far before the next stop. Best of all, because I was coming in from a different spot, I happened to notice this great view of the Domtoren with the setting sun and the partly frozen canal. I’ve never been happier to miss my stop.

The Muses Are Cold

Cold Inspiration
Still working away, but every once in a while, I run up against good ol’ writer’s block when my own writing muses seem to be as cold and frozen as the muses depicted in this sculpture/fountain that stands in front of the Stadsschouwburg. Tomorrow, though, I get to go get inspired by a couple of friends in Den Haag, and if nothing else, it will be a nice break from writing. Plus, I get to see some other friends here in Utrecht in the evening, so it will be nice to get out and about and be social again.

In the meantime, apologies to those whose blogs I normally read and like/comment upon. I’m so ridiculously far behind and have no idea when I’ll get caught up again. And thanks to those who comment and like my postings here. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply back, but I truly do appreciate you all. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We may get some more snow Sunday and/or Monday, so my snowy pictures may continue! Fijn weekend!

Big and Small … and Ice

Groot en Klein ... en Ijs
I love these two contrasting buildings across the canal from the Stadsschouwburg. The smaller Breyerskamers to the right is one of my favorite buildings in town. You can also see how parts of the canal were freezing over, which is particularly notable, as these ring canals around the city don’t freeze as easily.

There has been talk these past few days about the possibility of the elfstedentocht finally happening again, but it’s still up in the air as not all of the regions are quite frozen enough. What is the elfstedentocht you ask? It’s an 11-city ice skating race covering about 200 kilometers. As it’s an outdoor race through the canals of 11 Frisian cities, it always depends on the weather. Despite some cold weather the past two years, it hasn’t been consistently iced enough to make it safe. The last time the race was held was 1997. Still, each winter, as soon as a cold snap hits, everyone starts wondering if the elfstedentocht will finally make a return.

Snow Revisited

When I posted the photos of Atlas yesterday, I realized I never posted the other photos of the Nieuwegracht that I took that day in December. The Nieuwegracht is beautiful, stately and charming at any time of year, but with the coating of snow, it was something special.
X Marks the Spots
I saw this man walk out to the canal with a bucket and dip it in to get water, but my camera wasn’t fast enough to get the action shot, just the before and after.
The Bucket
Just Missed
It’s a long, quiet street, filled mainly with private residences and businesses, rather than a lot of shops. It’s yin to the Oudegracht’s yang, I suppose. The Oudegracht is the more obvious tourist spot, but the Nieuwegracht is definitely worth a wander if you visit. After all, both of them have the famous below-street-level wharves that are somewhat unusual.
Along the Nieuwegracht

Foto Vrijdag 2.51 White Christmas

Winter Wonder
The snow we’ve had this week seems to be sticking around, even though we haven’t gotten more in the last few days. So it might not be fresh snow, but it looks like we’ll still manage to have a white Christmas tomorrow; a rarity for this native Floridian. We went out earlier this week to do a bit of shopping and photographing. Utrecht is beautiful anyway, and with the snow, it becomes even more picturesque. The domtoren, as you can see, was particularly lovely, with the snow dusting the edges of the Gothic tracery and the icy tree branches framing it all. It looked like something out of a fairy tale, or Narnia, perhaps!

Winter Wonderland

It has been snowing off and on for the past few days, to go along with the arctic cold temperatures. The native Floridian in me still gets a thrill when we get snow (sneeuw), so today, with the snow coming down steadily, I couldn’t resist going out in it. Pippo was equally excited about the idea; I’m not sure who was more eager to go! I bundled up — Pippo already has a fur coat — and we headed out into the blowing snow.
Sticks and Snow: Heaven
Pippo is a snow dog at heart. He was racing around, jumping, sticking his nose in the snow, and playing with every stick he could find. He becomes like an overeager puppy any time he gets in snow. Because of his exuberance, we didn’t go far, just to the Zocherpark nearby. I didn’t want to try to navigate snowy sidewalks with an overexcited dog barreling ahead! There were a number of people out and about, but there’s still that lovely hush that comes over everything when there’s a layer of snow on the ground.
And for the record, yes, people are still out and about on their bikes, even in the snow, although I did see a few people who gave up riding and just walked alongside their bicycles.
Snowy Transport
The canal hasn’t frozen over yet, although if these cold temperatures remain, I’m sure it will get a bit of ice in some areas. Not enough for skating, though.
Somehow it seemed appropriate in this calm, peaceful, quiet world to see this particular sticker:
Power to the Peaceful
We’re home now, with Pippo curled up in the bed on his blanket and me with a nice warm mug of hot chocolate. The snow is still falling and it’s just all so gezellig! (However, our neighbours who are moving out today might not feel so enamored with the snow, nor are my friends who are trying to travel by train today. A little snow and the train service falls to pieces. Good luck to you if you have to be out in the weather for anything other than fun!)