A Room with a View & Glad Påsk

Our house in Tarabya is perched high upon the hilltop spread that comprises the area’s upper section. Tarabya extends down to the Bosporus, where the harbor is lined with an eclectic collection of stores and restaurants squashed together like too many teenagers in the backseat of a car. The Grand Tarabya Hotel, newly built, dominates the Bosporus promenade  with its stony white bulk.

The back of our house opens up to the sea view. From here, I can see all the way to the Bosporus and beyond, to the mouth of the Black Sea. Between our house and the sea, there is an array of wild and not-so-wild life on display: the always-present – and verbal – street dogs; also verbal seagulls; kids kicking a soccer ball or walking home from school (the wild part of the set); cars navigating the meandering streets (even wilder); and the man with the mostest (if we all could be so fit!) pulling his heavy, wooden cart laden with household cast-offs up and down the hills of Tarabya.

Thanks to the keen observation and quick texting skills of my neighbor, I have also been alerted to less typical – at least in my world – wildlife sights. Like schools of dolphins playing in the Bosporus.

(You don’t find those in the midwest, or Moscow, either, for that matter.)

Today, I received a text to look out my window and what did I see but a flock of storks! A BIG flock! I didn’t see any babies dropping from the skies, but it was an awesome sight, nonetheless.

When I complimented my neighbor on her visual acumen, she shrugged it off, attributing it to treadmill boredom (the treadmill in our compound’s small gym faces a window, so if the TV above the window doesn’t offer any interesting diversion from the discomfort of exercise, then the window might). Bored or not, it takes a keen eye and curiosity to spot some of the things that she has. While the storks might have been more noticeable, curved gray backs barely slicing the surface of a grayish-blue body of water a kilometer away isn’t exactly obvious.

I am the opposite of my neighbor. A bull wearing a siren red dress and whistling Tiptoe Through the Tulips could pass by and I’d never see it. However, today was a good reminder that no matter what my surroundings, there are always amazing things to see, if only I keep my eyes open for them and really look.

I did manage to open my eyes and mind wide enough to spy some Easter decorations in Sigtuna, Sweden, a place I visited briefly last weekend. In Sweden, children paint Easter eggs, much like they do in the U.S. They also – dressed up as witches and boasting red-painted cheeks – visit neighborhood homes, presenting drawings in exchange (they hope) for treats. For decoration, storefronts and people’s homes boast bouquets of small branches embellished with brightly colored feathers.

Swedish-style Easter

Swedish-style Easter

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As with most Swedish celebrations, schnapps, and singing generally aren’t far behind (and delicious food – the Swedish kitchen is superb although most people aren’t probably aware of this tidbit). However, it is a semla that I look forward to every Easter: a delicious, sweet bun with a marzipan center buried in whipped cream (we like ours served in a bowl with a bit of warm milk). I am going to attempt – again – to recreate this wonder in my kitchen this Saturday. While not a terrible baker, my semlor (plural of semla), instead of being light and fluffy, generally turns out hard and heavy enough to sink a ship. Or a stomach.

Time will tell.

In the meantime, warmest wishes for a wonderful Easter and sights that amaze you.

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