The Deer and The Eagle

It's raining. Hard. The first rain the province of Groningen has seen in almost three weeks, and it hasn't let up all morning. We've just said goodbye. Each drop of rain seems to provoke the formation of tears that are already in my eyes. I am walking toward the train tracks, resisting the urge to look back. She yells my name, "Jessica!" I turn around and see her, still standing in the rain where we'd just hugged for a solid minute. Her passenger door remains ajar. Arthur is waiting, hands on wheel. She waves a big wave. I blow a big kiss and then seek shelter to avoid the downpour as I wait for my train.

The Monday prior to my Thursday departure from Hop en Grut another WWOOFer arrived. The Belgian beauty entered the house with a bag twice as big as her. I showed her to the room we would be sharing. Mentally I had already sort of checked out of my stay at this farm - curious to see where I would be next, a little drained, and missing home - but Aurore's arrival and the few short days we spent together forced a magical reconnection to the original purpose for my travels and reignited my passion for this work.

Aurore, a recent high school graduate, decided after graduation to spend an entire year WWOOFing before moving on to University. WWOOFing half a year in the Netherlands and the other half in the UK, she hoped to improve with both of her studied foreign languages. My English really threw a wrench into any learning of Dutch through conversation with our hosts for her.

Aurore is long and thin, her skin golden, her hair buzzed, and her hazel eyes most prominent on her doll-like face - Aurore is simply stunning. In the garden, I watched her working - so steady, so peaceful. I've never seen anyone be as one with nature as Aurore. Often while completing tedious, time consuming tasks on the farm it seemed almost as though she privately wished the time would move even more slowly. Watching the woman weed a garden was like nothing I'd ever witnessed. She gave consideration to every single blade of grass that grew out of place and every last root that should be pulled with pleasure. In the end, the bed she worked was perfection - the cleanest bed of soil that has ever existed in a chemical free garden. I learned so much from her about moving at nature's pace, not my own. The lesson has proven priceless since.

Aurore usually works and seems most comfortable in silence, but one day we were especially chatty in the garden when she shared that as a young girl in girl scouts an animal was chosen by the group to represent her. She had been deemed The Monkey. I told her I didn't see her as a monkey at all; she was too elegant to be a monkey. We kept working and she became quiet again. Then she laughed for the first time in my company. I asked, "Is that funny?" She replied, "No, but no one has ever called me that before...elegant." It was easy to forget in her presence, but I saw Aurore in that moment more clearly as a very young woman who had not yet discovered how strikingly beautiful and surprisingly wise she was or what kind of power that holds in this world. Even though I knew her young age before, she had seemed so much older. It had been so obvious that she knew something about life and how the world worked that others - myself included - hadn't figured out yet.

Later I told her I thought her personality would more closely be matched to a deer - elegant, soft, peaceful, calm in nature, curious and quiet. She told me that I was an eagle because the eagle can fly high and strong and see all of the land, see many more things than other animals, just as I could see more of people's insides than most.

At the end of another day, walking back from the garden to the house after a long afternoon of work, I admired her deep golden color and I said to Aurore, "You are so tan." She looked at me with a long face and said, "Yes, I know. It's sort of a problem." I was confused but quickly discovered that Aurore, with excellent but not perfect English, had mistaken the word "tan" for the word "thin."

That night, in our room before bed, she clarified the mix up. Just one year prior Aurore had spent 6 months in a clinic to gain weight. She had been battling Anorexia since she was a young teen. She was concerned now of a relapse. When she told me, her giant eyes welled with tears and it was impossible to not follow her lead. In this moment I thought so much about how just looking at someone can never reveal all. Without her confession, I would have never known the hurt she was carrying with her. With tears not falling but gathering in her eyes, impairing her vision, her face struggling to resist further indulgence in emotion, she had revealed all to me.

The morning I left Hop en Grut I shared an early, laughter filled breakfast with Arthur, Benedetta, and Aurore. I was sure to let a few scraps fall to the floor for the pups Hibbe and Alicia. After breakfast I spent a few minutes with each of the 5 cats I'd grown to adore - Chocolat, Apple, Tomato, Koa, and Mouse. I walked out into the meadow to bid farewell to a few of my favorite sheep as well. Before leaving for the train station I wrote a note to Aurore and placed it on her shelf in our shared room:

Dearest Deer,
I'm so happy we were at the same place at the same time. I've never known anyone who understood nature the way you do. Please remember to nourish your body in the same way you nourish the soil and remember just as the garden needs maintenance, so does your mind. If you don't nourish and maintain a garden, nothing will grow. The same is true of you, Aurore. Treat yourself as you treat the earth and you will be fine.
Safe travels,



"Oh shit."

If this would not be your reaction to the words Arthur had just spoken to Gonzalo and I at the beginning of September on the Hop en Grut farm, then you are indeed a better person than either of us.

"On Monday there will be twenty 12-year-olds arriving at the farm. They will be staying for one week. You will be partly responsible for looking after and working with them. We'll talk more about it later." Arthur walked away with his wooden shoes, fit for a giant, leaving a thundering click or clack behind with each step.

Arthur had a working arrangement with the Waldorf school of Groningen that had been going on for some years. Each year a group of new classmates would start their school year off with a week of camping and farming. The Waldorf schools and the students at them are different from any others. The schools are anthroposophical and focus on creative, imaginative development of students with teachings from instructors who have more say in the curriculum - taught at a higher level.

Being in touch with nature was at the heart of this one week farm adventure for these students, but I couldn't help but observe the bonding that was continuously strengthening during their stay. These students would be classmates with only each other for the next six years. By the time school would finish for them, they would be more like brothers and sisters, each and every one of them. (Later, in Italy, I would see my theory on this different school structure come to life at a class reunion of 40-somes. It was much more like a family reunion. Amazing. More on that later.) If a trip of this nature was mandatory for students in the US at the beginning of each year, I could almost guarantee a drastic drop in bullying, outcast situations, dropouts, etc. To share such a unique and challenging event together when they were just meeting clearly set the perfect groundwork for friendship and respect upon return to reality.

I can't say that my initial "oh shit" reaction would be any different today if a similar situation were proposed, but I can say that when the short week was over, I was sad to see each and every one of the students ride their bicycles away from the farm. Thanks to the excellent English speaking of at least 1/2 of the children, we had all been able to bond a good bit - bond over games, furry pets, and even lost teeth.

A typical day during their stay would start with a breakfast in the middle of the big meadow where bread and various sugary spreads were passed around the table. It was at this table that I was introduced to Speculoos - essentially a traditional Dutch cookie in the form and consistency of peanut butter - a disgusting but wonderful introduction it was. Another toast topping favorite during these mornings was a sprinkle like candy, Hagelslag, which Arthur lovingly referred to as "cut-up woman's dress" due to it's sometimes multicolored pieces. "Pass the cut up woman's dress, please."

The children were divided into three working groups and after breakfast, we got to it. Alternating tasks, the groups would go to their daily assigned post. One group reported to Inga, a teacher from their school, in the barn. This particular barn belonged to the sheep and a few days before the class arrived G and I spent an afternoon transforming it from a shit cabin (literal shit) to a working, outdoor kitchen. Work for that day's lunch was done by the children with Inga's instruction and began right after breakfast with most ingredients coming from the Hop en Grut garden. Arthur, myself, and many of the students (who Arthur says have "cool hippie parents") were vegetarian. The meals were catered to us with absolutely no "I miss meat" complaints from the others.

Another group would report to Arthur at the GIANT compost pile each day. Work there was to completely turn the compost and remove what was finished to a new pile closer to the garden. In the weeks to follow, it would be my work to prepare the garden soil for winter and cover grow plots with this compost pile. The children would often try to get away with not being in the compost group. It was indeed, another "shitty" job.

The third group would report to Gonzolo and I or Benedetta in the vegetable or sun garden. We worked as a team to clean the many beds in the garden, harvest squash, basil, spinach, and begin a new compost pile. In the sun garden, Gonzolo taught the children about ladybugs being a sign of a healthy garden. I introduced some of the children to the flowers and seeds of the Nasturtium plant, the spicy flower quickly becoming a favorite snack of theirs.

The kids were given a break for tea around 11 and after a short hour back to work, lunch was at or around 1. When lunch was finished the work day was officially over and some sort of activity would begin. One day we all rode bikes to a local swimming pool. One day we went on a very long walk to an open field to play a game and then ended up walking back in thick, cold rain with puddles for shoes. One day we just played with the sheep. One day we rode bicycles to the village of Bortange to watch a Dutch account of the village's history and to patron the old candy shops that were still in business there. No such thing as a dull moment with this group.

The night before the children left was "theatre night." They spent the day preparing a show for us. I couldn't remember laughing so hard in a such a long time as they performed around the campfire. A group of kids who had only just met felt completely comfortable singing, dancing, and acting around each other. I'd never seen anything like it.

After the show, some tea, and the only chips I would eat during my entire European stay, we slept. In the morning, after breakfast and the deconstruction of the children's extremely complicated, pain-in-the-ass tents, Gonzalo and I stood in front of the farm as every single student dismounted and kick-standed their bicycle to enter into a hug line that led directly to us. 



During the third evening of my stay here, another WWOOFer arrived to Hop en Grut farm. My hosts lovingly refer to him as "The Spanish Italian," or "The Italian Spaniard." This handsome, dark-haired European has lived exactly half of his life in Spain and the other half in Italy. The only person I've ever met from Madrid or Rome, Gonzalo has the stories to back up the universal intrigue of both cities and can tell them to you in your choice of English, Spanish, or Italian.

Our first day working together was spent in the vegetable garden, beneath the Netherlands' shy sun. Swapping stories, discussing our passions and pastimes, describing our "other" lives - we became fast friends. Sharing the same position in such a unique experience demolishes any walls that might typically obstruct the path to bonding between strangers. After 20 minutes of chatting that morning, Gonzalo revealed to me that it was his 44th birthday. That night, with our warm hosts, we celebrated with a big dinner, fudge, and a single candle for him to blow out after we sang the b-day in a few different languages. Arthur and Benedetta explained, at a Dutch birthday celebration everyone attending exchanges Happy Birthday's, even if the day is not theirs. So, of course, we went around the table, speaking over each other, "Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday..." It wasn't until I was drifting off to sleep, hours later, that I remembered and said out-loud to myself in bed, "Today is 9/11."

As I write this, Gonzalo's 12 day stay at the farm has already come to an end. I missed his company within seconds of his departure.

In the days he was here, we discussed what it was like to be an openly gay man in Rome. I know that LGBT hate exists in this world - I own a television, I have internet access, I've read books, watched documentaries, even taken a class about it - but listening to my new friend describe constant fear of physical violence in the streets of Rome for the unthinkable crime of holding the hand of his partner makes my contribution in the States (signing of petitions, attending the occasional rally or picket, engaging in petty debate with ignorant strangers or acquaintances) seem so insignificant and like a massive failure. "I've seen it. People are regularly beaten. It's not safe. The law is not there for us. I've seen it."

In other similar conversations, G and I agree that Rome being home to The Vatican is not helping matters. But, even more so, this asshole - who says things like this, and this, and this, and even this, not to mention, all of this (are you fucking kidding me?) - being Prime Minister is seriously hindering social progress. When we talked (about this and most subjects) we were engaged in a way that transformed conversation into an art form.

While he was here, Gonzalo and I shared a few adventures: grocery shopping in Germany, a spooky walk to an old Jewish cemetery, and a day in Groningen filled with exploration, window shopping, and a museum visit - where I was introduced to the Photoshop excellence of Ruud Van Empel <3. But, the best time we had together still seems as though it was a scene from an offbeat, Indie flick. We had an impromptu beer tasting, here, with our host, Arthur. On a Tuesday, at around 5 o'clock, after a hard day's work, the three of us shared five different beers - none of which I had ever tasted before - German, Belgium, and Dutch varieties whose original recipes dated back to as far as the 1100's.

After beer number two, the topic of conversation shifted to music. I offered up my long time favorite, The Decemberists. Arthur reminds us of a 1960's Dutch song we heard and loved in the car - Suzanne by Jaap Fischer. Gonzalo and Arthur both turn me on to Antony and The Johnsons. I grab my notebook and start scribbling down artist names and titles as fast as I can. Between each sips-amount taste test of a new beer, Gonzalo would say in a silly voice, "And are the judges ready to try the next?" We sat around the table, talking, laughing and sharing music, for an hour.

Later, while Arthur made us dinner (vegetarian Sun-Dried Tomato Carbonara...omg), Gonzalo and I ballroom danced to the music that was playing. He quietly said to me, "And what more could we ever want?"



When my train arrives to Winschoten Station I am a bundle of nerves. My new home is only 30 minutes from where I stand, and I will be meeting my hosts for the first time. I walk through a sea of bicycles to the road in front of the station, searching. 

In all contact I had kept with this farm the notes were signed at the end, "Greetz Arthur and Benedetta." This signature, combined with the my excessive viewing of the Hop en Grut blog that is filled with photos of Benedetta, none of Arthur, had me a bit unsure of who I should be looking for, a man or a woman. Later, it became obvious that Arthur had been my main contact and that the blog was primarily his chore. Of course it would be filled with photos of his greatest love and not himself.

I set my luggage down and lean against a wall where I can easily be spotted and have a good view of my surroundings. A few minutes pass and a short, fat man with a shirt that reads, "Beef, it's what's for dinner," is walking toward me from his van across the way. In my mind, "Oh shit, no. Please, no." He is looking right at me.  As he gets closer and closer, a small European car with loud Indie music pulls up and stops very quickly. A tall man with wild, curly hair gets out. He is wearing a patched sweater in the brightest of rainbow colors, old jeans, and wooden shoes. In my mind, "Oh please, please let it be." The beef man asks, "Are you Malinda?" at almost the exact same time that the rainbow man says, "Jessica?" I jet past the beef man without eye contact, "Nope, not Malinda," as I am already engaging with the rainbow man, "Yes! Arthur?"

On the speedy drive home, Arthur and I discuss politics and the farm. He says things like, "Those Fascists!" and "Are you hungry?" It's perfect. His English is wonderful. Spoken with a British accent, as it was taught to him, we are able to communicate without any trouble. He is well read, intellectual, very opinionated, has a good sense of humor and a big personality - in the best way.

In the days to follow, I would come to know him as an excellent delegator. He offers welcome here that puts a worker in a different mind-frame. It's not really work when you feel a genuine sense of ownership at your "job," you see. He has created that sense for me. His direction is always clear and the tasks are fulfilling, even when they are shitty (lots of shit around here). When he delegates, the assignments are not perceived as an order, but, at the same time, he is not asking either. It's a fine line that he has mastered - a gift really.

When we get to the farm, after the drive, he gives me the grand tour with pride. The house, the caravan, the barn, the meadows, the sheep, the cats, the dogs, the chickens, the sun garden, the spiral garden, the tea garden, the vegetable garden, the pond...I can't stop smiling.

When Benedetta arrives from the market later that day, a sweet Italian voice at a high volume fills the entire home. We slowly become acquainted while dicing pears from the farm's orchard. My knife skills are pitiful in comparison to her swift cuts of the fruit.  She turns the cut pears into the most delicious marmalade I've ever tasted. During our brief conversation at the table, I initially perceive her as a bit reserved. I am so wrong.

As time moves forward, with observation, it is impossible to resist her warm and full-of-life charm. Each time she enters or re-enters a room where the dogs are, she speaks to them loudly in Italian baby-talk. It's obvious they like her best. When I am alone with the dogs I try to imitate her accent and dialogue, "Mi amore...spaghetti." It's quite offensive, but also quite effective. Benedetta is light hearted by nature and it is infectious. Her English is not perfect, but we are able to communicate just fine. Sometimes we will be speaking and then all of a sudden she switches to Italian and speeds up. We laugh when she realizes she's doing it. At times, when speaking English, she displays an expression of slight frustration that says, "I know I'm not saying it right," but often, when she's not, it's so much better - like poetry. My favorite example of this was when we were discussing the difference between tomatoes in Italy and in the Netherlands. With big hand gestures, she said, "I don't know how you say...it's...it's here, de tomat tastes de water. In Italy, is tastes de sun." I'm not sure she knew how beautiful that was.

Arthur and Benedetta, of Hop en Grut



I stand in front of the luggage conveyor belt at Schiphol Airport holding my carry-on's that are painfully compressing the bones of my body. I am convincing myself (to help lessen the blow) that the bag I was forced to check in Omaha will not have made the entire journey with me. The airlines have lost bags of mine on quick flights to LA; surely, with stops in Newark and Lisbon, my bag will never meet Amsterdam. Round and round the belt moves with brands of luggage I cannot read. I am shocked to finally see mine.

Now, I am searching for the Schiphol train station. This airport/mall/circus seems bigger than most towns in Iowa. I find a machine that will talk to me and help me to buy a ticket. I wait in line only to figure that this machine will only work for natives with special cards. I find a new line with a person to talk with instead of a machine. I wait. I order a ticket to Centraal Station and then another for the next day from Centraal to Groningen and another from there to Winschoten. I hand my card to the man for payment and he laughs at me. "Vee dant use zee stripes. Vee use zee chips." The credit card system is different here. He points to an ATM. I lose my place in line as I go to the ATM, discover that my card does not work there either, find an information booth, take the wrong stairs, come back to the information booth, take the right stairs, find a compatible ATM, hold and study euro for the first time, and then sit on a bench to allow brief rest for my spine. I am back in line.

With a new teller, I order my train tickets. When he hears that I will end up in/near Winschoten he says, "May I ask, why are you going there?" He is looking at and speaking to me as I might to a foreigner who was just arriving in NYC or Chicago or San Francisco asking for directions to Scofield, Utah.

I am on the train. I sit in an empty car with one other man. He speaks English. We talk a bit. He has a similar reaction to the 2nd teller when I mention Winschoten, "Oh god. I hope your impression of the Netherlands is not ruined by spending time there." I fish for some elaboration. I get none. It's dark. He helps me know when to exit the train because I can't understand the stops that are being announced. After 15 minutes, we exit the train together. He walks in the direction of the tram I need to get on next and points to where I should wait for it.

I am on the tram. I have entered at the completely opposite end from where I need to pay. I "excuse me, pardon me, oh, sorry, ouch, oops" my way to the back and try to pay a woman with the same look on her face as someone working for the Orange County DMV. She barks back, "I don't have change! Get out of the way." I try. I can't. I miss my stop because I cannot sift through the people on the tram to get to the door. I feel my eyes well up. I get out on the next stop by aggressively muscling my way through. I walk backwards, toward the stop I missed. I'm lost. I ask for directions. I am back on track.  I search for 20 minutes the address of Shelter Jordan on Bloemgracht when I should be on Bloemstraat. Fuck. I see a bearded man with a Chocolate Lab. My chest feels tight. If you know me, you know why.

I've been in an airport or on a plane or on a train or lost in a foreign city for 27 hours - most of which I have been carrying an awkward 75 lbs of luggage.

I am in the lobby of the hostel. I wonder if my back is broken. I try to check in. Not accounting for such a long travel time and the time difference or who the hell knows, I have booked a room for the wrong night. The woman at the counter says that the hostel is full and there is no room for me. We have a back and forth for awhile. I'm feeling defeated at my core. She says that the entire city of Amsterdam will be full, "Even if you had 500 euro, you wouldn't find a room. There is a big conference in town." I originally chose this hostel after weighing options between a self-proclaimed "party hostel" and this one, Shelter Jordan, a Christian hostel. Unable to decide which was worse, Shelter Jordan sounded quieter and safer. I pull it together a bit to try and guilt a spare cot out of this woman - something like, "It wouldn't be very Christian-like of you to turn me away in a strange city, at night, when I am lost, alone, scared, deliriously exhausted..." I was. She didn't buy it. Some American men in their mid-late 20's are checking-in beside me. They see the tears in my eyes and have overheard the conversation. One asks if I would like to stay with them; they have an extra bed. After the woman at the desk says it is illegal to sleep or have an extended sit at the train station, I accept the invite. She interrupts, "No. Sorry. This is a Christian hostel. We allow single gender sleeping arrangements only."  One of the American boys says, "What the fuck is this? The YMCA?" When I smile I can feel that I haven't in a long time. My cheeks feel like the jowls of a Basset Hound.

I am listening to the woman behind the counter explain complicated directions to me. I'm mostly just staring. She is using her hands a lot. I am so tired. It sounds like she is under water. She's just hung up the phone and is now trying to tell me the way by foot to a hostel that has one bed left. I politely interrupt her, "I'm sorry. I am exhausted and I am not walking anywhere. I have 10 euro. Please find me a cab that can take me there for less than that."

I am in the cab and I have no idea where I am going. The cab driver is asking me questions about myself and how I like Amsterdam so far. I begin to cry. It's sudden. I am so embarrassed and holding the tears back in a way that is almost painful. The driver says, "I'm not sure, but I sink you might be beautiful. I kant tell because you are ugly vwen you cry." I know I am not myself because my blood is not boiling when he says it. Now he is singing in an awful accent, "beeg girls...don't cry-ee-i-ee-i..." Fuck. We stop at the end of an alley and the driver points to a door, "you go zair." It stands out because it is the only door with a blue light. The rest are red. Oh, of course, I am in the Red Light District.

I am walking through the alley. It's filled with hundreds of people. It reeks of pot - not in a good way. There is trash and broken glass everywhere and the rumble of the crowd's conversation is filled with many different languages. I get a few, "I could help you turn that frown upside down," and "can I help you with that luggage, baby" comments. I walk by a window where two prostitutes in lingerie sit provocatively in chairs, illuminated with red light. I walk through the door with the blue light. I quickly figure out that this is only a small room with a desk where I pay someone for a room that is located somewhere else. My heart sinks.

I'm back in the alley, down 40 euro and searching for the crepes and waffles business of which my hostel is supposedly located above. Surely, my back is broken. I am so tired. Now, I am forcing my way through a thick line of drunks waiting for breakfast pastry so I can reach the back where a man sits behind a computer in what can only be described as a coat closet. I ask, "Is this the hostel?" He replies, "Sort of." I hand him the receipt I had received from the blue lit door where I paid. I get a key and some directions.

I exit the crepes and waffles joint into the alley and then directly re-enter the building from a different, unmarked door. I am walking up a set of stairs that are much more like a ladder. My shoulders each touch their own wall. Each step is a lashing. My room number is 4. At the top of the "ladder" there is a landing that is only wide enough for one door to swing open and then closed. I see that this door says 1. Then I see more stairs (another ladder). I have three more flights until I reach my room. Fuck.

I enter my room. It is tiny. It houses four bunk beds (eight beds total), four lockers, and one very small desk...barely. I have a piece of plastic that says my bed number is 5. I search for it. The numbers to the beds are not in any sort of order at all. When looking in with my back to the door, mine is the bottom bunk of the first set of beds on the right. I am alone. I unload the weight of my luggage from my body. It doesn't help. The damage has been done. I stuff everything I own - except for my passport, license, money, phone and train tickets, all of which I hide in my pants - into the #2 locker and lay down. I can only think of the fact that I was told this hostel was completely full and that I am in a room with seven empty beds. I am waiting for seven strangers to enter this room at some point in the night. I am absolutely terrified. What have I done? Why am I here? I want to go home.

I am not alone. I see a mouse. Perfect. Now there are three. Fuck. I watch them for awhile. They are around my bed on the floor. When I discover they are excellent vertical climbers, I am up. I remember some trash with snacks that were not finished on the landing in front of room #2. I have an idea.

When I am collecting the trash, I hear a ruckus on the level above me. I wait at the landing so I don't have to slide my body against any strangers in order to pass. It's quiet again. On the stairs between the 3rd and 4th floor I am greeted with vomit. It wasn't there on the way down. The texture of wet dough, it is thick and there is no way past it but through it.

I'm back in bed watching a mouse pick at the trash I have arranged on the desk that sits at the opposite side of the room. My plan has worked, sort of. I wonder where the other mice are now.

I have never been more tired but I don't sleep. My roommates arrive one and two at a time between 3 and 4:30 in the morning. As they walk in, my adrenaline is out of control. They sleep. Finally, so do I. I last look at the time at 5:15 and now I am waking to my 7:30a alarm.

The light of the morning changes everything. It's much less scary. My back feels better. The noise of drunken tourists outside has disappeared. I leave the hostel in search of coffee. I see a mouse on a window sill on my way down the stairs. He's sort of cute. In the alley I am greeted by the man who gave me my key in the coat closet. He is drinking beer. "Morning! Jessica, right?" and before I can answer, "Jessica, I am pissed." This means drunk. He is. His two friends laugh like school children.

The streets (more like alleys) are filled with trash. It looks like the morning after Mardi Gras. Even the businesses throw their trash into the streets. I find coffee. Coffee Americano, per Mona. I'm slowly coming back to life. I keep walking. It's beautiful. It's time to leave.

Once I find the right train, I sleep. I wake. I arrive. The nightmare that was Amsterdam is over just in time for the dream to begin. I will never understand the confusion of the people in Amsterdam as to why I would want to come here. Welcome to Hop en Grut...

Apple and Tomato
Tomato above the bikes
Outdoor bathtub
Bean poles
Chokeberry stem
Bee houses
Bikes up for grabs
Benedetta's Seitan bread
Chicken coop
Koa in the garden
Hibbe napping
Pears and Nasturtium
Acorn from Quercus Petraea (European Oak)
Onions, garlic, and Italian parsley seeds
Pear in the orchard
Pumpkins and various gourds
Puss 'n' Boots
Rain collection
Red rooster
Sheep in big meadow
Sheep in little meadow
Snail family
Sun garden
Tomato and my bike
Apple and the motor
Vegetable garden

Tomato near the ditch