zaterdag 31 augustus 2013

Day 17. Walking with Corrie van Binsbergen

 A rainy morning. The internet in the bar where I had eaten my diner the evening before was slower than slow. People walked in, greeted each other. Whenever a new person entered the room he would go around the tables, kissing people, shaking hands. My table was included in the tour as well.

I left when the rain stopped. It was Corrie's birthday today. I was wearing brand new and very expensive walking socks. My feet were cheering at every step.

I walked along a canal. Walking along water is comforting in many ways, not in the least because you don't have to worry about getting lost.

There were men fishing, even men sleeping in small tents. They had been out all night waiting for the night carp. It sounded like some mythic species.

I saw a leaf lying on the ground, a leaf I don't see too often. I looked up and saw the mistletoe hanging in the trees. Huge balls. Beautiful.
Mistletoe figures prominently in Greek and Nordic mythology. Although these days some people still consider it a pest that kills trees and devalues natural habitats, it was recently recognized as an ecological keystone species. A broad array of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants, and dispersing the sticky seeds.
There was nobody to kiss.

The sky stayed grey, the green balls continued to hang over my head for most of the stretch. Just before I reached Rethel there was a gate blocking the path. The way back was too long, the factory on the other side looked scary and enormous. I climbed the gate.

Truck drivers stared at me. I took me ages to reach the entrance gate. Barbed wire. What on earth were they making here?

I had to hurry to catch a slow train to Reims. I got off. I found a cheap hotel. I checked in. Walked up to my room. Looked at my hands. Saw my walking cane wasn't there.

Loosing things. I could write a book about it.

Back to the station, back to Rethel. I hadn't been in Reims an hour even. But my cane was there already. The train conductor told me she had found it and left it at the station in Reims. Up and down. Repeating myself. I travelled back again empty handed. In Reims a man in grey handed me my golden cane.

It was 6 already. Corrie had invited me to drink a glass of wine with her at 6.30 sharp. I wanted to find a quiet corner near the city centre.
I walked at random, crossed streets, walked around corners. Suddenly I stood eye in eye with the cathedral. I bowed my head. And saw a sign. It said "chilled bottles of champagne for sale to drink in the area around the cathedral".

6.29. I took off my shoes. There I was. In a stained three piece walking suit. The cathedral bells sounded when I popped the champagne bottle.

Happy birthday Corrie. Here's to your journey.

vrijdag 30 augustus 2013

Day 16. Walking with Mytho Geography

When I opened my eyes in the blue bedroom, looking out of the window into a huge shed, my assignment for that day was completed. Phil Smith, Mytho Geography, had asked me to look for places where the sacred meets the non sacred. I had slept in a small blue wooden house built for pilgrims in the corner of an enormous shed. Windows on one side overlooking the garden, windows on the other side overlooking a space filled with cars and hay and tools. I went downstairs to make some tea at the old woodworking bench. In the middle of one of the walls was a door where there used to be a window. The door was placed too high to be of use. It didn't open either. It had turned into a wall. Over it there were some small colourful Tibetan flags, left by a buddist monk who stayed in this place a few months ago. Everwhere I saw reminders of people who had passed by, stayed, loved this place and moved on. A lot of them on their way to Santiago de Compostella, about 2450 kilometres from here.

A friend had joined me for the walk the day before. We ate breakfast, homemade yoghurt and applejuice. Plums and apples from the garden. Strawberry jam. Bread. We did our yoga exercises in the garden. Warrior poses and sun greetings.

We were sad and happy to leave. It was a good place to say goodbye. Albert went north, I went south. Alone again. My feet felt light.

On the road I thought about what is sacred to me. It was a difficult question. I tried to answer it but got stuck so I just looked around me at the fields and the trees. I thought about animism, about people worshipping nature in many ways. I wondered if this road was sacred, the road leading to Santiago de Compostella, on the one hand marked as a GR route, a Grand Randonnee, chosen for its beauty and historical meaning, marked by the red and white signs, but also marked by the symbol of St. Jacque de Compostella, the coquille st. Jacques. I looked at my feet and wondered if my body was sacred to me. But again the answer was no.

The road was just the road. And I was walking it. As every day unable to continue whenever I would find blackberries.
Ploughed fields, big birds of prey, flying, praying, catching mice. The death of one creature meaning the life of others.

In Grandville I passed a church. I stood on the edge of the garden surrounding the church, one feet on holy soil, the other on very plain concrete. A line deviding the two.

I liked the curtain hanging in the church door. Material you would use on a building site. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to enter but I did. I unhooked the curtain, sneeked in. Greeted Saint Anthony looking out of a window on the right wall and remembered I had promised him a dime when I had lost my jacket a week earlier. Or maybe I really asked my grandmother to return it to me, my grandmother who must have given loads of dimes to saint Anthony during her life, always loosing things but always finding them again. She was convinced it was only because he helped her.

A fire extinguisher on one of the walls. Lack of faith or local laws securing public safety?

The graveyard was located outside the village. I could see crosses sticking out of a cornfield from afar. My other grandmother passed by in my head. When one of the 14 children she gave birth to died before it was baptised, she wasn't allowed to bury the baby in the holy ground. It was buried on the other side of the graveyard wall.

At the next crossroad a tiny Jesus was hanging from a metal cross. It ligned up with the windmills in the far distance. Two small mounts drew my attention, I liked how they were situated in the field. When I got my camera out to photograph them, a man appeared from behind the mount. He was picking up things, I couldn't see what it was. He came towards me and asked if I needed directions. I did but not the directions he was talking about but he gave them anyway. His shoes looked as if he had been wearing them his whole life. He told me my French wasn't bad for a Dutch person.

We talked. Or actually he mainly did the talking. About language, about economics, about living in this area. About how difficult it was these days to walk somewhere, to take shortcuts, because a lot of the old roads weren't there anymore. He drew lines in the sand. He talked about soil. How the soil was different where I was heading. About the importance of it. He said it again and again.
I nodded. Looked at our feet. Le terroir.

He walked back to his mount, continued what he had been doing. I walked on.

Footsteps, ploughed earth, clouds. The line where the earth touched the sky. I felt small. And I had to hurry. The hotel de ville in Chateau Porcy was closing at 5. I had been slow.

I arrived just in time. I explained I was on a long walk and needed a place to spend the night. The man behind the counter nodded and reached in a drawer. He gave me two small pieces of paper. An address and a secret code.

The door opened to a room with five beds. I was alone in there. The last pilgrim had left this morning. He had left me some wine and some soap. There was a note saying that the only restaurant in town would be cooking me a meal if I wanted.

I sat on the doorstep with a glass of wine.

The restaurant was across the busy street. Normally I don't eat meat. But sometimes you eat what you are given.

Before I went to sleep I walked through the village. It wasn't particularly nice, but everyone was greeting me. I looked up, no stars in sight. Cloudy skies. It was going to rain. But I would be inside. Inside this village's hospitality.

donderdag 29 augustus 2013

Day 15. Walking with Alexandra van Marken

 My best friend joined me to walk with me today. He happens to be my husband too. It had been complicated to find a place to sleep yesterday and it was the same today. When I am on my own and there is no campsite or hostel I just put my tent at a quiet spot and sleep like a baby. I thought of Thoreau:

"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off."

We set off late. We walked through woods and fields. We thought of Alexandra.

In Lalobbe we longed for coffee but the only cafe didn't open until five. At the church three girls in beautiful dresses were sitting around a beautifully set coffee table. One of them was just putting a lumb of sugar in a gold rimmed coffee cup with a small silver thong. Before we knew it we were sitting next to them, holding similar cups. They were doing research for a "spectacle" as they called it in french. A travelling performance in peoples' houses in that area. They were gathering stories about coffee. By inviting passers by to drink coffee with them.

Albert talked about Coffee and Cigarettes, the movie. In particular the scene with Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. We remembered the coffee grinder I gave Albert for his birthday to slow down his life. I talked about my grandmother who taught me to drink coffee and used to invite everybody who was passing her house in for a cup. When we left we received a small bundle of sage to keep us safe on our travels.

We walked and talked and arrived at Justine Herbigny where we had reserved a gite for 10 euro per person. We didn't expect much and when the owner directed us to a huge shed and asked us if we had brought our sleeping bags, we thought we would be sleeping in the hay. He opened the door, inside there were cars and a camper van, wood and tools and hay. And in the corner the most beautiful blue two storey wooden house. He had built a house for pilgrims in his shed. "It is a simple place" he said and he opened the door. A big kitchen, a bedroom, another room. Old furniture, books, a display of old tools. Flowers, fresh fruits from his garden and in the fridge two cold beers and a bottle of apple juice he had produced himself and was very proud of. We sat down and didn't know what to say and wanted to stay forever.

In the morning he brought us breakfast. We wanted to pay for our stay but he didn't want anything. We sat in the garden for a while and left, already planning to return some day.

Albert went north, I went south.

woensdag 28 augustus 2013

Day 14. Walking with Lonnie Stegink

Studio Harcigny. We talked about the importance of teaching and learning. About Beuys. About Herzog. We waved out Lonnies brother. He had biked there from Eindhoven a few days earlier. Before he left he shared his new project with us. He had been planning to donate a piano to Frank and Lonnie's place. After our talks he had decided to bring it over on a hand-driven cart. Ask people to sign up to transport it for a few kilometres. Organise concerts on the way. Albert signed up. His fingers itching already.

Lonnie made juice out of the small yellow plums. We drank it while it was still warm.

We didn't walk. But our conversation went in all directions.

Albert brought me back on track. We explored the woods around Signy-l'Abbaye. We closed the day with Christian Bobin:

"Un grand musicien est quelqu'un qui donne apres plusieurs annees de travail ce que donne le rossignol au premier jet de son chant."

"A great musician is somebody who is able to produce after many years of hard work what the nightingale produces in the first notes of his song."

dinsdag 27 augustus 2013

Day 13. Walking with Frank Siddiqui


I had a strange dream. I walked around with two big holes in my legs. You could see right through them. I encountered two men. One of them said: "You look as if you've been crucified." I just walked on.
Another day with the theme longing. I woke up in time to see the sun set over the Siberian Plateau. Since yesterday I have been following the GR 654, the route from Namur to Vezelay, continuing there to Santiago de Compostella. Before I took off, I tried to remove the thorns from my handpalms. Yesterday I slipped and fell in some blackberrie bushes. I suddenly remembered my dream.

Plums and blackberries for breakfast. A walk through the woods. A river. The route told me to make a detour through more woods but I was attracted by the water. I remembered the haiku Frank had sent me. About the boat of his longing making waves along the waterside. I followed the river. La Meuse. A line through the landscape.

Frank had bought a farm in France. He was there at the moment with his partner, Lonnie. They had invited me to come over if my route would lead along their house. In a way it didn't, but in another way it did. It would be a big detour. But after I had read his last message to me, I realised it would make sense to make this detour. This is what he wrote to me:

"Dear Monique and co-pilots in time and space, we have chosen and found a place to stay and work. We have plenty of room and besides: none of it is ours. That's just on paper, as we have always felt it. We act as on the move, with what and who is there, and we enjoy to share as much as possible. Anyone with respect and wonder coming to this place will be our teacher and leave wisdom here. Learning is our work of art and your visit will be another opportunity to meet, share, learn and wonder."

Detours are the best.
In the evening I was at their place. Albert had joined me and drove me there. We sat in the kitchen and talked. About haiku, about Osho, about longing. About the Armenian composer Komitas, "Bartok avant la lettre". About andouni, songs about exile, about the power of music.

We slept well.

Here is a link to their place. A place with room for everybody:

maandag 26 augustus 2013

Day 12. Walking with Ivar Berix

Some days there are a lot of thoughts, some days there are little words. Today was one. Leaving Namur, getting lost in the roads around the big fortress overlooking the city. I managed to get to Bois-de-Villiers, slept at the edge of the Siberian Plateau. It was the first warm night.

In the morning I had had breakfast at the hotel. Everything had been yellow again. Strange.
I had started the day with John Cage's Six Melodies, the first one in particular. Ivar had asked me to think about longing.

walking is longing
your heart in your feet
leaving and staying at the same time

A friend told me that while I was staring into a yellow distance, following two railway tracks with my eyes, wondering where they would lead me, our former prime-minister was on t.v. He was a good guy. At least in the beginning of his career. He left the arena though, stepped out of politics. Makes you wonder.
The program is called "Zomergasten", "Summer guests". Prominent people from all fields have three hours to show their favorite t.v. fragments. Wouter Bos started with a poem.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

zondag 25 augustus 2013

Day 11. Walking with Lucy Steggals

The worst thing happened. I lost my jacket. I lost my jacket. I lost my jacket I got stuck on a crossroad. Twice.

I twisted my back, couldn't move for two days, wasn't able to walk south, to walk anywhere with my house on my back. Today I finally managed to walk to the nearest train station to catch up a few kilometres. A 10 km walk and another 3 to the hostel from the station in Namur. And lots of kilometres by train.

Lucy had asked me to choose a colour and eat food and consume drinks in this colour only. I ate a yellow creamy yoghurt, pineapple, a banana, yellow fruit juice and later on some cheese and taboule (I took the red and green bits out).

The nearest trainstation was Beringen. I got distracted by my old footsteps. I had been there before. I walked east then. Almost a year ago. I could see the path I followed behind the Beringen' mine and I felt an urge to go there again, to walk the path I walked before, to make the circle round, to stay in this last year forever, walk this year again and again and again. But I passed the mine, walked towards the train station and missed the train because I was waiting at the wrong platform. I looked at my backpack, didn't see my jacket hanging where it is always hanging, felt my heart sinking. I walked back to the mine, where I had sat down to drink a yellow beer, retraced my steps, saw my jacket twice but it was a piece of dark plastic twice. I walked and walked and knew I would miss my train again but I didn't care. 15 names embroidered in my jacket. I lost the people who walked with me. That was all that mattered.

I walked all the way back. When I was almost at the gate of the mining area I saw a piece of dark plastic on the side of the road. Then the most amazing thing happened. The piece of plastic turned into my coat.

I would be too late for the 7.30 train. And I couldn't take the 8.30 train because the detour was ridiculous, it would bring me west, to Antwerp and south to Namur from there. I made sure I was in time for the 9.30 train. It would take more than 3 hours to get to Namur. The hostel I had booked refused to let me in after 11. I wasn't sure where I would sleep. Maybe I would just walk. When I arrived at the train station at 9.20 there was enough time to stand still at the bridge crossing the tracks. I looked down at the platforms and into the distance, my eyes following the two lines. The sky was dark. Everything else was yellow.

zaterdag 24 augustus 2013

Day 10. Walking with Saskia van der Wiel

Normally I don't write until the end of the day but today is different. I'm not sure why.

It is just after 12, the middle of the day and I am celebrating Saskia's 50th birthday today. She wrote a text for me, a text in blue, a text about age. In Dutch the word for age is "leeftijd", living time. A very different word. A word you can explain in many ways, which she does in her text.

I embroidered her name in my suit this morning. Her name in blue. It is the blue I bought for Anna, Anna who asked me to think of her unborn child for a day. Or maybe I bought it for Saskia. I bought it on my second day at an antique shop I passed when I thought I was following the right river, the Kromme Rijn, the Bended Rhine, in the middle of Utrecht. It was in fact a different river, not even a river maybe, it might have been a canal, anyway .........

I bought blue thread and it is the only proper blue thread I've got with me. Loads of other clolours but no blue. It is my favorite colour though. Most of the time.

I'm home. I didn't know it when I stepped into this cafe and everybody stared at me. And that was even before they saw my suit. I was still in my raincoat. I was looking for coffee and chocolate cake. Apple pie. Something to celebrate with. I passed the grand cafe with the fancy chairs, it was still closed. 10.30 But the cafe opposite the church was open. I had passed it yesterday already. The local carrier pigeon society was located there. It looked like a good place.

Everybody stared and I took off my raincoat and sat down. The conversations at the bar started again, more beer was ordered, I asked for coffee and a big man, a young guy, looked at my suit and asked me if I was travelling with my horse. Everybody was laughing. I did too. This is how it starts always. I told him I was on foot. He asked me if I was alone and I said yes. He said he was alone as well and suggested he could accompany me. Everybody laughed again and I said yes, accompany me, but it means you have to carry everything on your back and walk all the way to the south of France. I showed him my jacket, the names, the name in blue and he asked the woman behind the bar for 5 euros and gave them to me. I want to sponsor her, he told the others. And he was serious for a moment. I asked his name. Frank.

I sat at my table and drank coffee. The men drank more beer. A woman drinking white wine had to be accompanied to her house later on. I sewed, I read, I listened to the men laughing, talking, drinking. The woman behind the bar must have been in her seventies. She knew what everybody was drinking. They all knew each other. In a way.

Radio 2. All the songs were sad. I drank more coffee. They drank more beer. It wasn't even 12. I thought about the Sunday mornings at my grandmothers house. We went there every Sunday when I was a kid. Everybody did. All my aunts and uncles were there, drinking beer in the morning. I played with my cousins. My grandfather was sitting in the corner. My grandmother walked up and down. The table was big enough for all her 12 children and their partners.

I felt home.

I won't be walking a lot today. My back is still troubling me. I walked to this cafe. And I will walk back to the campsite after I finished this. And tonight I might walk back here. And drink a beer with the locals. Be home again. Or not.

vrijdag 23 augustus 2013

Day 9. Walking with Ermanno Bosgoed

My tent looks ridiculously small inbetween all the caravans on this campsite. They stand side by side, close together and I'm happy my neighbour is a huge old tent that hasn't been used for a while, turned all green.
Today is Ermanno's birthday. The big 40. A border I already passed. Like most borders it is an artificial one, but I can say I quite like it on the other side. I hope he will too.
I had planned (the word "planned" shows up a lot in my reports) to move on, like I'm moving on every day but after I packed my bag, just in time for the rain to start, and wanted to lift it, I made a wrong move and couldn't move for a few seconds. Damn.

There was no way I could carry 10kg on my back and walk. So I stayed.
Staying is always good. It isn't easy though. It took me a few hours before I could stop trying to find a solution and just sat down and stayed.
Around three I walked to the village where I hadn't been yet, it was hot, I passed the small wood in front of the camp site and smelled the warm pine trees, a smell that always brings me back to the summers (or was it only one summer?) when I was a kid and we spent our holidays in a cottage in the woods near a lake somewhere in the south of holland. Me and my parents and my two sisters, one of them is married to Ermanno now.
I walked on, looking for a place to eat some nice birthday pie but couldn't find anywhere where I wanted to sit down. Then I suddenly remembered Ermanno didn't like pie. So I went to the shop, bought what he liked eating on birthdays and carried it to the camp site. It was big. A huge golden vanilla cake. I could make some new friends.

The rest of the day I sat in the small wood, ate vanilla cake, drank a beer, listened to some music for the first time in nine days. In the evening we skyped, Ermanno and his family. Three small, very blond and very cute kids tried to climb into the computer and give me drawings. Ermanno showed me the watch he got today. It will enable him to know for sure time is passing. His 6 year old son showed me the hole in his mouth. He lost his first tooth. I thought of the Nova my Danish friend wrote me about the other day.

There I was, on a campsite under a tree, sitting in the dark next to my miniature house, holding a 10 inch screen in my hand talking to my relatives in another country, seeing their faces, the caravans in the background. For a moment I felt as if I was in some science fiction series, star trek maybe. Then Ermanno looked at his watch. It was time.

donderdag 22 augustus 2013

Day 8. Walking with Janus van Binsbergen

Janus arrived at the campsite around 10.30. I had planned to leave at 9 and walk at least 5 kilometres before we would meet but as so often I got into a conversation with somebody at the place where I had spend the night, a field with all sorts of houses on wheels. Pjotr/Zoe had been staying there for the last 1,5 week and was thinking about leading a life without money. We exchanged stories, thoughts, book titles. He told me where the nearest plum tree was, gave me some apples. Janus arrived in his camper van. We drove of, heading south. I had nothing planned, the only thing I knew would happen that day was crossing the route I had walked last year, I mentioned it yesterday as well, a walk from the west of Belgium to the east, with a group of artists from around the world.

We started driving the road I would have taken if I would have walked here. It didn't work. We changed tactics, using the sun as our compass, just driving south. It didn't work either. But we managed somehow.
Janus had problems with his back. He couldn't walk long distances. But he wanted to walk with me, even if it was just for a kilometre. I thought of Peace Pilgrim who walked across America, thousands and thousands of kilometres. For a long time she had refused to be in a car, until she realised telling her story was more important than sticking to her own rules. She gave lectures about what she was doing - walking for peace - and when the distances she had to walk to pass her story on became too long, she started accepting drives.
My walking isn't only about using my feet. I do want to walk a big part of the road to the Nomadic Village in Cuges les Pins but it is a mean to spend time with people. And when they can't walk but want to spend time with me, I don't mind not walking.

Janus was convinced it was my day and I should tell him what the plan was. I considered it our day but since he didn't have any requests I took him on a tour of what my days generally look like. Moving around, heading south, trying to find a nice route without drifting off too far. Nothing very special. In a way.

I had to get used to the speed of the car, the roads weren't very attractive, the villages boring and we were getting close to the area where I had walked last year. I wondered if we should cross my old footsteps by foot and we decided to stop at the first cafe to get online, look at the map, drink coffee, talk. We did. Again it wasn't green or beautiful and I wasn't sure if we were doing the right thing, if it shouldn't be more exciting, if we shouldn't be driving a beautiful road, aiming at something special to do ....even the sky was grey.
But we sat down and the coffee was good and I told my story to the lady behind the bar and the man drinking beer at the other end. We drank another coffee and at that moment it happened. A man entered the terrass carrying a box, he was the husband of the woman running the cafe. In the box he had detailed maps of France. He had just picked them up, a friend was throwing them away and his wife told him my story. He gave me all the maps I needed to walk through France, only two out of eleven were missing. A small miracle.

I didn't have to pay for the coffee. I promised them I would sew their names in my suit. Janus and I drove to the Albert Canal and walked.

He had told me he always walked in circles. He had told me he wanted to walk for a kilometre. We walked along the canal. We walked two bridges far. I walked in my old footsteps. We returned. And walked in our old footsteps. Back and forth. No circles. Although there were circles in our talk. We walked about 5 kilometres.

What we talked about takes time to write down. It had to do with music and beauty and expectations and how a conversation can be like a walk. I wish I had time to think about it more now and write it down and in fact I do, one of the things we talked about is that you cannot not have time. It is there and you make choices. And the choice I make now is to let it rest, let it simmer, let it mix with all the other talks with other people. But I'll get back to it.

The last kilometre we walked in silence. When we arrived at the camper van, Janus was eager to write down all the things he had thought that last stretch. But he didn't. He said he would go home, walk our walk again in his head at some point and then write down his thoughts.

We ate, we drove off and at the point where the road was blocked because of construction works, I left. The walk in the dark to the campsite was about as long as my walk with Janus had been.

woensdag 21 augustus 2013

Day 7. Walking with Silent Rain

 smell of countryside
the evening is falling soon
longing to stay here

I used to walk with Basho, the Japanese haiku master. When I walked through Belgium a year ago as a walking librarian in the Sideways festival, I carried his book "Narrow road to the deep north" on difficult days. A lot of people borrowed the book during the walk. I couldn't bring it on my walk to the south, but I did bring a small book titled "Steps to NoWhere". A walking guide made especially for me by a friend from Denmark I have never met and didn't know about until I started this project. He uses haiku poems as a walking guide through life and in the book he introduces his version of haiku poetry, inviting me to make my own form on this day. In the book he writes:

"What fascinates me being your Walking Friend is our inner dialogue .... not knowing each others answers or questions. Even not knowing each other at all! Maybe the personal connection and the meaning of the words is not important. Maybe the only thing, that really matters, is the feeling contact between two walking friends."

I started walking late. It was a lovely day and I felt so comfortable in the wood behind the campsite where I was all alone. A warm day, I sat under the trees, embroidering, thinking, looking at the pine needles on the ground. When I finally left the afternoon was almost over, I said goodbye to my lovely hosts Koos and Marlies and walked through fields, along sandy roads, eating berries for diner. The sun set, the moon appeared, a full moon, a clear sky. And this blue ........

I walked and walked in the dark, feeling almost invisible and thought about the other words my unknown friend had send me the day before. He had written me that a Nova was discovered a week earlier, now a 6.Mag star shining in Delphinus. A seldom occurrence. He wrote "Enjoy this extra traveller fellow. You can't see it with your naked eyes – just like you can't see me. But you can look at the spot knowing it is there following you."

I looked up in the sky. I thought I could see it. And I could. It was in my head, in my memory. And my head became the sky.

You can see it here:

dinsdag 20 augustus 2013

Day 6. Walking with Kees van der Zwaard

A walk with somebody on my side today. I met Kees at the Big Church in Vlijmen, i didn't have anything planned for the day, not even the first part of the route. We looked at the off line map on the ipad and walked south. Talking. Sometimes we talked so much, we forgot about the route we were following but it didn't matter. Being together was the goal, there were so many roads we could follow, even standing still would work. Although we talked about many things, it was all about the same thing. About staying. About leaving to be able to stay somewhere or staying to leave other things behind.
We walked to Oisterwijk, I dropped my bag at a campside, we had dinner and talked more. I walked Kees to Oisterwijk and at the first crossroad we said goodbye and i felt happy and sad, sad to leave him after such a wonderful day, happy to continue walking with his energy present. He read me a poem before he left. It is by Derek Walcott:

Love after love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

I walked back through the woods and got lost. I opened my ipad to look at the map but the screen remained black. There was a full moon though and i found my way out. I passed a grill restaurant on fire, firemen running around in the middle of the night. I wondered if I was dreaming.
At the campsite i still had to register. The caretakers invited me in for a glass of wine, we exchanged stories and Koos managed to get my ipad working again. We listened to the owl and drank more wine. They were wonderful company and even offered me a free stay at the campsite. I promised them I would embroider their names in my jacket. In gold. Because Koos fixed my ipad. But I think they deserved gold letters anyway. I talked with Marlies until after midnight. She made us some tea and we went to sleep. Back at my tent i sat on a treestump for a while, overlooking the misty field, bathing in moonlight. I could stay here for a while, i thought. But tomorrow i will be leaving. I have to leave. I promised people i would be leaving. I promised myself i would stay though. Stay with myself. And i do that by leaving others, leaving places, taking myself along the road.

maandag 19 augustus 2013

Day 5. Walking with Lisa Callenbach

I didn't sleep too uncomfortable in the corn field although it was somewhat muddy. At 6.30 i was on the road again, drairy area, walked for a few hours. In Zaltbommel i had checked the internet and found what is called in dutch a "zorgboerderij", a farm that also functions as a place for people who need extra care. This care farm had living quarters for 4 boys, and facilities to organise activities for a bigger group of kids and young adults who needed special attention. There were volunteers and interns working with them in the perma culture garden and in and around the farm. There was a small shop, a big field with all sorts of buildings and shelters - a huge tipi, a yurt, some big tents - and a camp field. I arrived around 10, planning to celebrate Lisa's birthday by sitting still for a while, wander around the farm, catch up with my writing, eat some cake maybe, birthdaycake, but where? The moment i thought about the birthday cake a man turned up with cans of coffee. He was accompanied by some other people, all working there. They invited me for coffee and only a few minutes later a woman appeared with a beautiful home baked cake. It was made by a volunteer with the name Monique. I smiled and told them I was celebrating Lisa's birthday today and we all ate our cake, Lisa's birthday cake.
The rest of the day i did no writing, i walked around, talked with Rudi about vegetables and permaculture, with Bram about walking and life, answered all Kim's question about making art and earning money while wandering around, helped Petra preparing plums, as always these days the plums are everywhere. I walked to Vlijmen to drink a beer and on the way I sang a silent birthday song for Lisa. It was another good day.