There was rain last night and soft thunder. I woke vaguely, hearing the curtains ruffle and the rain filtering to the street through the trees just outside my window.
The light was diffuse early, lacking the sharpness that we anticipate from the beginning in the West. Smoke rose from a chimney across the street from my hotel room. The black smoke puffed, attenuating to a stream of thick and thin, bent low and away from the chimney in the breeze.
Yesterday, after arriving, I wandered jet-lagged in the Rijksmuseum, trying to focus on the paintings, but mostly trying to stand despite my sleepiness. When I sat in the galleries my eyes closed, and I slipped swiftly toward sleep. Then I would walk again.
Later I drifted to the Museum Plein, where I had tea. Others were having coffee or ice cream at makeshift cafes. People strolled and smoked. A scruffy man in a heavy brown coat rinsed his hands over and over in a drinking fountain. He moved out of the way, making a welcoming gesture with his clean hands, when others approached. He came back to rinse his face, then swished the stream of water over his bald head. I watched tourists flow from the museums. Some were those I had moved among in the Rijksmuseum, alternating space with them to read the painting labels or stand close for details. Couples passed with strollers. Girlfriends were photographed by the pool or by trees. Bicycles passed by.