Albert was a friend. He taught me to look at things and see, analyze and then feel it it too. My daughter said: 'Thank you for choosing your friends well. It gave me a happy childhood also because of them.' Here you see one of his paintings... Always fascinating. An other friend and gentle soul gone, too soon.
Some friends and family try to keep 'posted' on my whereabouts and what I am up to. For the time being I am in the low countries where it has been raining old wives, cats and dogs and all the other expressions you can come up with. Parts of Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany are flooded. Meadows, forests,gardens are waterlogged. Saturated. Canals and streams overflow or break dams. And still at least one more day of rain has been predicted for Western Europe.
For the rest I have been following my passion:poetry and the translation thereof. Being a member of PEN's Writers in Prison committee, we keep an empty chair for the colleagues who are in jail at all activities we organize. I must say that we live in interesting times. A writer we have defended Chinese Liu Xiaobo has received the Nobel prize for peace. The other great news is that Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar after 15 years of house arrest and imprisonment has been freed. Her first speech dealt with the most important right a person has and which according to her is Freedom of Speech. Both facts are good news, now another writer in prison should be freed. Monday evening from 7 to 8 PM, November 15, Bart Stouten will - on the classical radio Klara in Belgium - also deal with the subject of freedom of expression and speak about an story written by Uighur author Nurmuhemmet Yasin, Wild Pigeon. This short story was published in a literary magazine and let to the imprisonment of the author in 2004. May he and others opposing dictatorial regimes be free at last.
When dark and stormy November shows the darkness of the days to come what better to do than have a parade with children carrying lighted lampoons and lanterns. Happy music and Saint Marin(a) in red coat on a horse will give you happy feelings even in pouring rain and a cold dark evening along the Rhine in Orsoy. Of course you will be held warm also by a nice grog or Glühwein spiced up with some Cointreau. After the parade sweets are passed out to the local children or those young at heart. The Weckmann is it, some fruit and a selection of sweets and chocolate. Of Course kids make their own lanterns and the town is decorated. It is all about being together and sharing. A nice feeling.
At the end there is a fire to warm all the marchers and onlookers up and of course it is professionally doused by the local fire brigade.
So we warmed our hands and heart at the fire, thought about the good days children can still experience, we all smile notwithstanding rain and wind.
Tradition can be stifling but in this case tradition makes sense, brings joy and brings a community and families together. And the next 11.11 at 11 minutes past 11 The fifth season begins.