It is September, the first step towards autumn. The temperature is 38 degrees Celsius when we land at the Kansas City airport. After a cold and rainy summer in the Netherlands I have no problem with it. The next morning I’m up before sunrise and while at my desk I watch the sun rise: a large fiery ball rising slowly above the tree line in the distance, draping everything in a rich golden light. Majestic!

I discover six blue-winged teals in the large pond – a group of Canadian geese fly by close to my window, honking loudly, and across the pond I spot a couple of deer walking through the meadow. Two mothers, both with twins. Two of the fawns still have white spots, indicating they are a little younger than the others. A few turkeys pass right below my window…

I feel at “home” far away from home. It is a totally different world, but a world that over the past twenty years I’ve grown rather accustomed to.

It only takes about ten minutes for the hummingbirds to figure out that I hung their feeders filled with a sugar-water solution. They fly all around me, their wings buzzing, they are not shy – no time for that! Don’t be fooled by their size or their beautiful iridescent green outfits, these birds are territorial!! Within one hour there is one particular hummingbird who has claimed the feeder as his own. He will drink until satisfied and then sit in a nearby tree. Invisible. But as soon as another hummingbird flies up to take a drink, he chases it away quickly, GET OUT OF HERE! He will do this numerous times during the day. Such a small bird, packed with fury, a bird with a very short fuse!
I hardly recognize the kitchen garden; everything is so green and rich.

Of course I know how incredibly red the Northern Cardinal is, but having been exposed only to the Great Tit, subtly colored robins and dunnocks this summer the large bright red bird flying by is a bit startling. Then a Blue Jay arrives to have a drink at my bright blue birdbath…hmmmm, my brushes are getting impatient! Moments later I watch two cardinals eat the honeysuckle berries. Coral-red honeysuckle flowers, red berries and two red cardinals…I will have to make a sketch of it.

Then I see something that I will have to paint for sure: two hummingbirds are drinking, while hovering mid-air, the nectar from the blue sage, Salvia azurea. Their wings flapping so fast that they are almost invisible. A large Zebra swallowtail also stops by for a drink – it is larger than the hummingbird!

I bring a flowering branch back to my table and discover I have also brought a beautiful crab spider along, who was hiding in one of the flowers. They are camouflaged so well that a non-suspecting hoverfly will only discover him when it is too late.

This is what I love about living in different locations: every time you look at nature around you with fresh eyes. I really feel at home after I put the yellow sunflowers and the coreopsis that I picked during my walk through the prairie in my favorite vase and place them on the dining room table. Carrie and Mischa are joining us for dinner tonight and Gaston is making mushroom risotto.

I know that when we return to the Netherlands and the plane lands at Schiphol Airport I will really enjoy the Dutch landscape, but for now I’m thrilled to be here in beautiful Missouri. I wonder when the raccoons figure out that we are back…

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