A letter to... The River Amstel

Poor River Amstel.

You kind of get a bit overlooked, don't you? All those canals leading in and off from you with their arched bridges and miles of grand gabled houses. Not to mention the wild waters of the IJ which has its own choppy personality and dominates the very core of Amsterdam. No, unless they're heading your way to see the most famous of Amsterdam's bridges Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), or they chance upon a stretch of you during a canal boat tour, visitors to Amsterdam would possibly never know you were there holding it all together.

But I do. 

I see you. I watch you float on by. I look to you.

Sometimes every day, sometimes not for a week or so. But I see you and you are a welcome sight.

When I run, I run towards you. You're my halfway mark, a sign that it's time to turn back.

When I walk with friends from afar, I bring them to you and make them stand on one of your bridges and I tell them as many stories as I know about you. And not just that you gave your name to a beer. No, I tell them that you gave your name TO THE CITY.

When I cycle to the east, I cross you, struggling up the hill of a bridge, but leaning back into the rush of the descent at the other end.

When we venture out of the city for a break, we follow you.

And when it's time to come home, you lead us there, safely, calmly, quietly.

Thank you, River Amstel. 

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before putting down some roots with her Australian partner and having a baby boy in July 2015. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her son around Amsterdam.
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