Blacktop Rain

…and other secret joys

I went for a wander and found… a crocodile!

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This morning’s sunshine tricked me into pulling on my shoes and coat and heading out for a walk. I was beginning to regret the hat and scarf as I walked through the quiet Sunday streets in bright, warm sunshine.

On my way to the park I came across a heron on a lamppost. In fact, it’s quite a common sight around here. I’ve also seen them on gate posts, railings and rooftops. They always look to me as though they’re guarding something…

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I decided to take a different path through the park today and followed a wood chip path along a drainage ditch. The grey cloud brooding over the tall, yellow grass should have been a good indicator that the sun wasn’t going to last long.

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Along the path, I came across a tree that had fallen, pulling up the earth with its roots to reveal the banks of the drainage ditch. Although I know these drainage ditches are entirely man made, it was still surprising to see bricks underneath. The pattern of the bricks had been imprinted into the thin veneer of soil that covered them. It seems like a fitting analogy for nature in the Netherlands, for the way that the line between humans and nature is almost non-existent here. It makes no sense in a landscape that is constantly being reclaimed from water.

2014-03-23 11.07.21xAt the end of the path I doubled back on myself along Nieuwe Diep. It was then that the clouds decided they’d had enough of holding back and unleashed, not rain but snow. It’s been such a mild winter and yet, just as spring is supposed to be getting under way, the weather sends us snow. I felt sorry for the ducks and the coots out on the Diep, but I realised I was projecting human feelings about weather on to them. I made me wonder – how do ducks experience cold and rain? Do they experience it as something unpleasant or do they simply accept it because they have no choice? This is the danger of anthropomorphising – we forget to question the fact that there are other creatures experiencing the world in different ways.

I passed close by another heron, which was stood in the shallows of the Diep. I slowed down so as not to startle it, but it had already seen me. It took a cautious step back and then flew off. In the bushes, a flash of blue revealed a jay. It was a few feet in front of me, but every time I got near it would fly away, but only a few more feet, so that it kept having to repeat this as I walked along the path. The heron and the jay made me feel like an intruder.

The snow petered into rain. I turned down another new path and stood watching the rain on the water for a while.

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I’d set out on my walking hoping to spot a new bird or animal, but the binoculars had stayed in my bag. I was feeling a little disappointed, when I noticed a log with some spray paint on it. I took a closer look and realised that someone had turned the log into a crocodile.

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You really never know what’s going to turn up when you head out the door…

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Author: Naomi Racz

I am a nature writer, with a particular interest in urban nature. I also write about social media and work in communications with an NGO.

2 thoughts on “I went for a wander and found… a crocodile!

  1. Who would’ve thought – a crocodile in the wild in Amsterdam!

    Your pictures of herons reminded me of how when I was younger my grandmother would always say they looked cold to her, standing hunched together, and that she would knit them stockings some time… 🙂

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