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  • I've just been to the kitchen to put the kettle on; it's tea drinking time.

    While I wait for the water to boil I step out onto the back porch.

    It's raining.

    "Soft day, thank God," the old farmer cycling past would say, while tipping his cap in a gesture of greeting.

    ...if I was in Ireland.

    Momentarily I am.

    I love my little Amsterdam garden in the rain.

    It smells of country lanes. Of damp glades with ferns and moss covered trees with a waterfall cutting through it. Of sloshing through peat bogs while walking through the hills. Of honeysuckle in hedgerows on long June evenings.

    It's all here in my little Amsterdam garden in the rain.

    I love that humus smell that jogs these olfactory memories.
    I love the play of light on wet leaves. That glossy sheen.
    Greens deepen. Browns become bitter chocolate.
    I smell chocolate. At least 70 %.
    I taste it's bitter sweetness.

    The hushed percussion of rainfall on leaves. Warm summer rain. Makes me feel cosy.( being dry helps too, I suppose). I don't think there is a percussionist in the world who could reproduce that special, specific rhythm of evening rain falling softly on green.

    Some years ago, my young nephew and his girlfriend travelled down from Berlin to spend a weekend with us. It was bad timing. We were heading off to Portugal for a holiday. We left the key with a neighbour so they could use our appartment. When we got back I phoned to ask how they got on in Amsterdam. He said they spent a lot of time sitting on the back porch in the 'rain-forest'. I liked that. That made sense. I could feel that, that rain-forest feeling.

    It wasn't much fun for them. They had had a lot of rain and didn't get out much.
    Now they live in Ireland. Enjoying the rain, perhaps.

    It's still raining.

    It doesn't deter the coal-tit pair who have set up home in the nest-box I built and placed in the birch some years ago. They are busy with their second clutch and fly tirelessly backs and forwards to keep up with the voracious appetites of their almost fledged chicks. Their curiosity to discover what lies beyond that beckoning light source above their fluffy heads is getting the better of them. I hear them calling. Soon they will fly .

    The rain is easing. The blackbirds have donned their blackest, starched cassocks, taken their places, and begin their evensong.

    The water has boiled.
    I pour water on tea leaves.
    The tea, too, is like rain; water falling on green leaves.
    It's green tea.
    I see soft rain falling on the high hills of a tea plantation in China. The bases of the highland hills are lost in mist.

    All this in a little Amsterdam garden.

    It's tea drinking time.

    Time for drinking tea.


    Now, where did I leave that chocolate.
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