Monday, January 29

The Friday Market and The First Dogpark

It seems that as soon as I am getting down about having to be Dutch for a few months something good happens. Right after writing that last post, on Thursday evening, I enjoyed the goodness of the Friday market outside my building. This week I went armed with a list, as opposed to last week's wandering, and was not disappointed. I located pine nuts, raw almonds, avocados and peppers at an affordable price, quinoa!, dried cranberries, and much kindness from the locals. Wandering through a clothing vendor, I mustered the courage to point to, and inquire about, hangers. My apartment came with ordinary shirt hangers, but not skirt hangers with clips. The nice man, who like all the rest spoke good English (much embarrassment we should all experience at home for being unable to speak other languages as naturally as the Europeans speak English!) and offered me as many skirt hangers as I would like -- for free! I took two and then sheepishly accepted a third when prompted.

Then, at the garlic/onion/potato stand, I bought a bag of potatoes and, in stumbling over the word for garlic, "knoflook" which is remarkably similar to the German "knoblauch," received this item as a gift as well! The farmers and other merchants who bring their goods to the open market are such a cheer to me!

Then, on Saturday out for a walk with the ever-patient (as long as I bribe them with food) Joe and Carrie, I followed a local woman and her poodle as she entered an area suspiciously resembling an off-leash area. With trepidation, I inquired, "Excuse me, is this place for dogs?" Again, the wonderful response in English, "Oh yes, they can go from here, over there, and around the corner, and run and play!"

And so, the first dog park. It isn't much, really: a grassy area behind some apartment buildings bordered by the buildings, two fences, and walled train tracks. It isn't perfectly secure; there are no gates, but the entrances are barred by nature so that the dogs are not inclined to leave the grassy pasture. The trains, which are intolerably quiet, are what takes the most getting used to. I have looked at the track wall, and even asked the other dogpark patrons about the tracks, and there is no concern whatsoever amongst the locals. The wall separating the trains is 8 feet high, stone, and is completely impenetrable (so Mom, please don't worry!). Nonetheless, trains go by and I stop all movement and watch, keeping an eye always on J & C.

The area, (photos to follow soon, I promise) is big enough for Mr. Joe to run his loops and act like an idiot. Carrie runs joyously after Joe and returns to me with flopping ears and a happy grin. I was beginning to worry that Joe would not find a place to run; he is certainly a couch potato but he does actually need his burst of speed once in a while. So now we have it, and it will have to do for now.

Joe decided he was going to take his "Euro-trash" identity all the way: today at the dogpark he went over toward the apartment buildings and found something to eat -- an act that earned him a wrenching open of his jaw from yours truly, but he had already swallowed whatever gross treasure he had found.