One thing I’ve realized about fall in Amsterdam: it goes from ‘picturesque’ to ‘miserable’ quicker than you think. Looking out my window as I write, the trees lining our canal are almost bare. I stop and ask myself: have I made the most of this beautiful yet fleeting time?
I’d like to think I have. I’ve got pictures to prove it, and a certain pigtailed little girl to thank.
With an increasingly mobile toddler who gets restless being cooped up at home, long walks in Westerpark Amsterdam have become a staple in our routine. I hardly ever use a stroller; I take Tala on my bike, or strap her into a tricycle I bought secondhand (her feet can’t reach the pedals yet). Our walks have been great for our bonding, and on some days, essential to my sanity.
Autumn turns to winter swiftly here. Now I can’t go out coatless and just in sneakers anymore. In a matter of days, the grass in Westerpark went from littered with fallen leaves…
to thickly carpeted with them.
As a Manila-born and bred Filipina living in the Netherlands, fall is still fresh and magical to me. Forget my daughter… I wanted to roll and play in the autumn leaves myself!
Tala doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm for the magic of autumn. That’s okay; I think I have enough for both of us.
We’ve tried setting her on the ground among the leaves to see if she would go wild and just roll around in the leaves or something. Nope. Mostly she just wants to cling to Daddy.
What she does love about Westerpark, regardless of the season: feeding the pigeons, seagulls and ducks. Fall simply brings us this dreamy light, and creates the atmosphere of sunset even if it’s early in the afternoon.
The first time Marlon gave Tala a few crumbs of stale bread for the birds, she immediately popped it into her own mouth. Oops! Now she knows a little better, although the crumbs don’t always make it into the water. But she loves it when the birds swarm around her to peck at the crumbs by her feet.
She also loves the little playground by the pond. It has three sand pits, but they’re usually too damp and cold to play in. She loves the bouncy horse…
and she’s crazy about the slide, especially since she’s learned how to slide down by herself. Yes, she goes down the slide by herself, at 1.5 years old. No, we are not irresponsible parents. Besides, she still needs our help to go up!
This is just daily life in Amsterdam for us. But this is also one of those myriad little ways that having a child can change your life. If it was totally up to me, I’d spend all those chilly autumn mornings curled in a blanket on the couch, reading a book.
Without Tala dragging me out into the world, this lazy mom would have missed the transformation of fall as it happened bit by bit, day by day, right in my own back yard. And now that it’s almost all done, I’m so glad I got to watch it unfold.