Homing instincts

Bonjour! I’m back from Paris and Amsterdam. We actually returned Thursday afternoon, and I’m happy to report that our jetlag was minor compared to last year. In fact, we had a fantastically productive weekend (more on that in a mere moment).
I think one of the hallmarks of a good vacation is realizing that no matter how much you are enjoying the place you are visiting, there is no place like home. We love Paris (it’s our second trip there) and we loved Amsterdam (our first visit). One of the things I love about travel, other than the museums and architecture and the usual things you think of, is observing how people live, how it’s the same in some ways, but quite different in others. I always come away with both admiration for life in my temporary home* and gratitude for life in my permanent home.
I also come home inspired, and with an acutely heightened nesting instinct. Between the bountiful farmers markets of Paris, the small potager (kitchen garden) in le Jardins des Plantes (above), or the container gardens crowding the front of virtually every home on every narrow street in Amsterdam (below), all we wanted to do when we got home is garden. We spent the weekend putting in our vegetable garden (hauling in a truckload of compost, weeding, hoeing, planting), building a water feature for the back patio out of half wine barrel, and bedecking our deck and patio with pots filled with flowers. (Did I mention that we weren’t struggling with jet lag?) We even bought a few pieces of statuary, to remind us of Paris, where statues are everywhere. Everywhere.

I used to maintain a second blog, Carrie’s Urban Farm, which fell by the wayside about the time I started preparing to go to graduate school. You peruse the archives there if you want to see what I was doing with my vegetable garden then, or see the early days of our backyard chicken journey. Going forward, I’ll include “urban farm” related posts on this blog, including photo updates as my garden grows.
* In Paris, this would be cafe culture, the fresh produce on virtually every city block, and the way that most Parisians carry around a small book with them to read while standing on the metro or sitting in a park. In Amsterdam, this would be cafe culture, the appreciation residents seem to have for their city, and the fact that, based on appearances, every resident has been issued 16 bicycles and two cats (the sweet kitty below was minding the store while it was closed…the next day I was talking to the shopkeeper and she said the cat was important for keeping away the mice).