Today I went into Haarlem city center to do a little shopping. It’s raining cats and dogs lately and I need some new winter boots. I was really tired from a busy week and not enough sleep, but this was my one chance this week to shop. I also needed some groceries for the weekend.
The skies cleared, the rain stopped, so off I went. Lots of people had the same idea. The city center was buzzing and busy. I must have gone into every shoe shop in Haarlem. The only shoes I liked were not available in my size. When you have smaller than average Dutch feet, you either get in early and buy those shoes, or you just loose out. There’s not going to be another shipment of small shoes this season. Shopping here is such a frustrating experience for me.
I was just feeling so fed up with all the busy busy people. I had a week of dealing with busy busy stressful people, mostly men, and just had enough.
I was walking down the Grote Houtstraat when I saw a large round doorway and the door was open. It was like looking into Alice in Wonderland’s dream. Here, hidden behind the building walls was this tranquil garden with small doorways all around it. It was a Hofje that I had not noticed before.
I walked in and just stood there for a little while, breathing in the calm. Then I strolled around the square. Every single dwelling had a small garden of flowers in front of it. And I think every single dwelling owned at least one cat! They were everywhere and I took the time to scratch one behind his ears and made him purr.
How is it that just when I sorely needed some rest in my head and some peace in my life that I happened to come upon this place? I stayed as long as seemed polite. Then walked back out the magic door into the busy city street.