Afternoon scenes on Nieuwe Lelie Straat

I’m blogging from a weathered bench in front of my friend Will’s flat on Nieuwe Lelie Straat. Meadow rue and geraniums overflow from two pots on my left.  The honeysuckle and rose climbing the doorway are lanquorously bathed in slow-setting sun.

I love these narrow, cobbled streets. Young and old crank past on beater Dutch bikes, some carrying mattresses, groceries, children. Even as I write, a horse carriage clops pass, pulled by two chestnut steeds. Everyone at the bar kitty corner from where I’m sitting lets out a cheerful “WHOAA” as the cart narrowly misses the tables out front.

A blond woman in a molasses brown leather jacket pedals by. She’s riding a typical black step-through Dutch bike. The wicker basket in front is woven through with a plastic flower garland, complementing the flower print panniers in back.

She stops and points at my computer, asking in a smoker’s gravel, “I have the Apple. How do you make the `e’ with two dots on top?”

“Oh, you mean the umlaat?” I grin and quickly Google it. “Aha. Option-U and then press your letter `e’.”

She’s been trying to make the `e’ with two dots since she bought the Mac three days ago. She grins, heaves her bike back around and pedals off. The church down the street — the only church in Amsterdam that plays all-nighters — melodically clangs the six o’clock hour.

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