Every tuesday I meet up with my “language buddy”; a young man from Zimbabwe. He’s learning Dutch and I’m practicing with him. The weather was so nice this tuesday that we decided to meet up in the Arboretum Belmonte in Wageningen. It’s one of the biggest botanic gardens of the Netherlands and houses a beautiful collection of trees, plants and shrubbery. Because of its sheltered location, the onset of spring always seems to happen a tad earlier than in the rest of the region. Anyway, right now it is the place to be if you want to check out trees and bushes in full bloom. Yellow! Pink! There used to be a time when I considered the magnolia a pompous, overgrown prunus-wannabe. No more. The above picture just says it all. I’m in love with this tree! I think it might be a magnolia variation, but honestly I don’t know. The flowers are absolutely gorgeous, though. Yellow, white, pink! But oh, just look at that next picture. I want to get married again somewhere with this tree. No really, I mean – to this tree. Have its little tree babies all over my garden or something. Of course I couldn’t forget the prunus, my first love. Though we were rather late for that tree; most of them are almost done with blooming already. They’re so beautiful though. I love how the magnolia peeps through the prunus flowers in the next picture. Yeah…this just needs to be, I don’t know, wallpaper maybe. In fact I will make it that, on my laptop, at least. Some trees are a bit more subtle about this whole ‘spring thing’. Can’t blame them – with such neighbours you have to try something different to stand out. Okay, fine, one more of my true tree love… sorry, subtle yellow flower tree. Your understated beauty pales next to his abundance. I’m just greedy for visuals, what can I say. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention the awesomest part of our walk: we saw two snakes! This is the coolest animal sighting in Europe that I’ve had so far. I know there’s snakes in the Netherlands, but I’ve only seen one once before and it slithered away so quickly that I only ever saw the tail. But these two were awesome. I managed to take a picture of the first one, though it also slithered off way too quickly and the picture is very sucky. You can see its tail, if you look hard enough. Can you see it? Dark brown/grey and shiny, on its way to hide in the bushes. It was around 100 cm long, which is a big ass snake by the way! They are not dangerous though, and obviously a lot more afraid of us than we are of them.
My language buddy, slightly nervous look on his face: “…I thought there weren’t any snakes here in the Netherlands? That’s what I like about this place.”
The second one I didn’t manage to take a picture of. It was about half the size of the first, but we could follow it a lot longer than the other one, since the undergrowth it was trying to disappear into, wasn’t really growing much yet. Definitely a European grass snake; we could check its head and distinct ‘ring’ markings easily. We really hadn’t expected to see a second one, since it’s so rare to see one in the first place! So this was by far the coolest walk of the last month. Awesome spring snake time yeah B-)