It’s 10 PM and it’s STILL light out!

IMG_1734.JPG

After closing down the Lange kitchen last night around 8 pm, I sat down to get my fix of American TV, and after what I thought was only a short while of my eyes glued to Bloodlines, my son turned to me and asked, “What time IS it?” Looking at my watch I was shocked to see it was already 9:30 pm. I’m usually in bed by now (and he usually has control of the TV). The thick black-out living room curtains were still open and the sun was still brightly shining on. And then my son said looking outside, “How is this possible?” Sunny nights are another expat fringe benefit living this far north in Europe. And one of the reasons I’m finding myself a little more tired.

With the sun rising at 5:15 am and setting close to 10:30 pm these days in June, energy abounds. Sort of. It’s not like I need less sleep, but with 18 hours of this glorious sunshine my brain thinks I have enough energy left to stay up later and wake earlier. Melatonin, where are you when I need you?

Not wanting to miss out on one moment of any sunny day (and eve) in Amsterdam, everyone seems to be outside ALL DAY LONG, day ending at 11 PM. Dining tables and chairs are brought out onto sidewalks, singular chairs onto tiny outdoor landings, cafes become overloaded spilling onto bike paths, canals are bustling with boats and finding green space at parks becomes a competitive sport. The atmosphere of play is infectious and it actually takes effort to slow down.

I have also noticed my fellow Dammers’ moods are lighter too. There’s not so much grumbling at the tram stops, people are smiling as they pass by, bikers are actually waving me to walk IN FRONT OF THEM at the crosswalks and there is much less beeping of cars on the thoroughfares. See what the sun can do.

The forecast looks bright for the following seven days so pack up those picnic baskets, invite people onto your sidewalks and into your gardens, grab that empty outside table at a nearby cafe and enjoy it. Remember, once fall comes, so do the dark days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Morning in May on Mykonos

IMG_3923.JPG

You would think one of the most beautiful islands on earth would inspire me to write beautiful playful descriptions of the eye candy staring me down from all sides. This early morning has graced me with a light blue-green Aegean sea mixing with a romantic sky turning from pink to orange and finally azure contrasting with a landscape of light brown and green earth dotted by stucco white houses you only see in Greece. Sitting alone outside by the pool over the sea at one of these Greek white stucco houses rented for the week, with my hot Nespresso in hand, I should feel so relaxed. But, I’m not. Instead of feeling annoyed, I’m mostly humored and curious about the various loud noises breaking into the beauty all around me. And how am I the only one up in this house that has 11 other people sleeping in it?

On this second morning here, I’m awakened by chirping and screaming birds of all sorts and sizes, a crowing rooster greeting us – well, me -hello at 4:30 am right before the peek of dawn, an incessant barking dog tied up to a wall as its owner sleeps away – he seriously must be deaf – the donkeys “hee hawing” off in the distance, a random cow mooing, the wind racing up from the sea over the little hills outlined by handmade rock walls, buzzing scooters and quads swerving along narrow roads, not to mention the three hour-long thunder and lightning storm that woke us all smack dab in the middle of the night with flapping wooden shutters, pouring rain and driving wind. I’ve experienced an onslaught of constant assault to the ears. And it’s just 6 am. Maybe I should be grateful it’s not the clinging of bike bells I hear.

IMG_3932.JPG

Discovering and appreciating the unexpected is what I enjoy most about traveling somewhere new. The surprising cacophony here adds a spiciness to this unspoiled beauty. Mykonos is really small and with the absence of many tall trees, you can see for miles and miles across the hills and out over the sea from our rented house perched mid-way up a hill. In late May, it’s bathed with full-on sun that enwraps you like a really warm blanket you’ve been searching for all winter – I’ve finally found it. The vitamin D has been soaking in, giving me a dose of energy my body has missed. Thank God for that and this caffeine – cause it’s really early. Also, I’m seeing lots more freckles. I’m still pathetically white, but with more spots. Thank you bright sunshine.

 

IMG_3911.JPG

In addition to the many many unfamiliar sounds we cannot escape, our rented house comes with wildlife. You are surrounded by bugs everywhere, (still wondering why there are no window screens anywhere in Europe) but that’s somewhat easy to get past. It was quite something, however,┬áto discover three medium-sized turtles just outside the front door, one of which aggressively chased me as I was carrying in a package of groceries from the car. Who knew turtles were territorial? Or chased anything? And there is a coop of chickens we found in the back (I tried reaching in for some fresh laid eggs – bad idea) and cats. There are cats absolutely everywhere.

IMG_3886.JPG

I’ve noticed the farther south you go on the European map, feral cats abound in large cities. Some follow you, curl up next to you at cafes or just invade your personal space. Here, in Mykonos, you feel like you are invading their space. Apparently, southern Europeans do not believe in the neuter-spade idea. And the Animal Control officers do not chase cats. Not being a real cat person, at first, I just looked on as they ran past, drank the pool water, and circled around the outdoor dining table at mealtimes. And then realized these cats, here at this rented house on a hill in Mykonos, kind of live here. They peek out from little windows built into the rocks, know where all the doors and windows are, are comfortable creeping into the kitchen from outside, and this morning, one is daring to curl up next to me on the outdoor sofa. And did I mention that cats sound like crying babies? If only my dogs were here to save me. Or maybe that barking dog would follow me up the hill if I untied him….

Someone else is up looking for coffee in the kitchen – I hear the clinking sound of cups or plates or some kind of ceramic. ┬áTime to move off this couch and gather my things (and my people) to head to the beach down the hill. I am sure there are many more sounds and sights to discover.