Saturday, September 6, 2008

There's a Chill in the Air:

And you can feel the seasons changing. It's as if the second hand has suddenly struck a new hour, and the new hour is the next season: autumn. There's something that happens around this time of year that gets me excited. The leaves are changing colors, slowly sauntering to the ground, and Vondelpark is revealing a side of itself that I have yet to lay eyes on; the advent of autumn is here. The weather’s just perfect–not too hot, not too cold. And when the sun shines the smell of dried leaves fills the air. The days are getting shorter, the sunsets even more spectacular. Sometimes I ask myself if they’re even real. I’ve been taking picture of the Dutch light from various places around town, mostly from my back terrace. I’ve amassed quite a bit so far, but only time will tell what I’ll use them for, if anything. They make me smile when I look at them, and remind me of just how spectacular the world really is.

I'll be going on a short trip north from September 17-23; back to the Copenhagen, and I can't wait. There's just something happening in the air in Scandinavia that I love. Compared to Continental Europe, things just happen at a different pace; slower in my opinion. All of Scandinavia is just breathtakingly mooi (the Dutch word for beautiful), and I appreciate the lack of triumphant arches, baroque architecture (which I do love), and classical architecture that comes from such hot headed kings and leaders from Europe's past, and dominates most other European capitals. It's as if Scandinavia itself is another place, complete with (depending on your definition of Scandinavia, by number of countries) four out of five countries currently not within the Eurozone. The fact that most of them still have their historical currencies makes the trip seem a world away–and I can't wait till I board my flight at Schipol.

The fact that I used to live in Copenhagen means that I already know my way around the city, the best bakeries, how public transit works, and the street where the city's best ice cream shop is hidden. Exciting. In addition, some pretty great things have been happening in the city; art installations have been installed, museums have change their exhibits, and new buildings have been constructed since my last visit in March. What fun I’ll have when my friends are at work. There’s nothing like exploring a city alone and taking in everything it has to offer. Sights, smell, sounds. This weekend will be devoted to the two great loves, currently on prominent pedestals, in my life; Denmark and Baking. The latter being a desire that the autumn weather has suddenly awoken inside me, to me nothing says ‘autumn has arrived’ like the scents and smells of cinnamon, pumpkin, oatmeal raisin, and all the other delectable edibles that accompany the season.

Denmark will be a driving factor of this weekends events. One Danish architecture publication in particular has captured my eye, and I would love the chance to stop by their office, see more of what they do and the environment they do it in, and hopefully have a nice chat over a coffee. Just me taking a genuine interest in a few companies with parallel interests to mine. A normal human interaction fueled by a collective of individuals who all share the same interests and passions about what they do on a daily basis. I would like to interview the office and then write about them, for some publishing platform, that is. I’m excited to say the least. Now that my articles for the magazine have been published, and I can officially call myself a ‘published writer’, I’ll be able to show my work to various studios in various formats. I’m so exited for my future, and it propels me forward every day.

One of my life goals used to be, to once again live in Denmark, as well as speak Danish (and with a working knowledge of Dutch and German behind me, the learning process should prove to be quite easier as all of the languages above, as well as English, are of Germanic origin. Languages are so intriguing). But I think that goal's ship has sailed. I am firmly in the Netherlands. Hopefully I succeed in all my life goals (and my life continue much longer down the road, but if for some reason it were to ever stop short–my life has been immensely fulfilling to this point and will continue to be with each new day). The weather this week has been less than desirable, as is most of the Dutch weather; but this weekend it's supposed to reach 22C and the sky will undoubtedly by fill with crepuscular rays. Rays which I will be enjoying from one of my the most beloved spots I've staked out here in Amsterdam–my back terrace, conveniently located right off my bedroom. Teacup in hand. A somewhat lazy weekend this shall be. This weekend my interest in Denmark will merge with baking, fusing into one ever enjoyable non- stop weekend festival, with only one party-goer in attendance–me. Something about this time of year just makes me want to stay inside, curl up with a great book, and lounge around the house in. The back of my closet will see the light of day as I fish out my ‘lounging around the house’ attire–that ever oh so comfortable outfit that makes you feel so warm and relaxed, you could just melt into your surroundings. For me, this attire consists of my colorful and festival San Francisco socks (which I purchased in Chinatown last time I was in San Francisco a small token from my travels to remind myself that I will once again return to one of my most beloved cities), my ever so comfortable gray cotton pants, and a sweatshirt that fits just right. Not too tight, not too baggy, and ever so cosy. Perfect.

Other than the occasional trip to the market, stroll to the grocery, and possibly a quick run or cycle, this weekend will be ever relaxing and ever so enjoyable–and I can’t wait for it to begin. Tomorrow brings fresh flowers from the market named after the famed painter, Albert Cuyp, and just in time. My sunflowers are just now showing signs that their lives without roots firmly planted in soil, are coming to an end. Lilies I’ll be looking into, but who knows what I’ll buy. Only time will tell–perhaps a vibrant color of another flower will spark my interest more.I need to purchase a bread pan, but other than that I’m completely set for the cook off that will be occurring in my kitchen this weekend. Though I do think I need to purchase a few apples and possible some brown sugar–oh, and some vanilla. Well, the list continues to grow. I made bagels a few nights ago, which is actually quite easy believe it or not–and the fun begins once you’ve mastered the recipe and then experiment with different add-ins such as granola or sesame seeds. Fun fun. My roommate had one and said it was great, and I also brought a few in for a co-worker of mine who also had great things to say. I’m sure my roommate will be quite shocked at the amount of activity taking place in his kitchen this weekend; as he’s not one to cook too often, let alone bake for that matter. But, I’m sure he’ll appreciate all the great things that will be pulled from his oven once the timer goes off. There’s something about giving that makes me so incredibly happy. Even the smallest things–cookies for instance. You never know what people are experiencing in their daily lives, but even the tiniest act of kindness, be it a cookie, always brings a glimmer of brightness to someone’s day–and I love it.

This weekend I’ll be trying my hands at a few of these autumn inspired recipes:

...and possibly an apple pie if I'm ambitious.

The Dutch don’t celebrate Halloween, and I think that might be one of the reasons that I’m so consumed with the notion of Autumn. Due to this lack of festivities, or even recognition of the season change on part of my new nation, I’ve decided to venture across the English channel for an extended Halloween weekend, to visit a good friend of mine who just moved to London last week. Something even more exciting to look forward to.