Snow in the Netherlands, rain, rain and more rain in Portugal and the occasional storm with even more rain. The Netherlands is white, Marvão is wet, as is probably the part of Portugal that lies further north and I am almost certain that the Serra da Estrela has snow. Skating fever is in full swing in the Netherlands. Here, the farmers mainly talk about their flooded lands. The cattle sink to their knees in mud. Now I hope that Algarve will also get enough water for the whole year because there is a great shortage of it in that region. Our reservoirs are filled to the brim so no one can complain about that this summer.
When I used to live in the city the weather was a distant thing. I did check the forecast to know what to wear the next day. Because up early, out the door, working hard all day and back home. Week after week. I never thought about the roof or flooding or whether the storm could break anything. That’s a different story here. I will tell you that after all these years, so surrounded by nature between the mountains, I am really grateful every day for a practical house without floors with a good roof and veranda. With a floorplan that Coen designed taking into account the (un-) conveniences of living in the campo of Portugal. A house that is cool in the summer despite the large sliding glass doors and windows and warm in the winter thanks to a wood-burning stove that burns twenty-four hours a day in winter. Thanks to Coen. He cleans the stove every day, arranges the wood, carries it in and keeps the fire burning. He facilitates a good outdoor life for me and I am grateful for that. Just like for the stocked refrigerators in the kitchen that I can use to prepare food every day.
I am now – it is eleven in the morning – at my desk and look out through the glass veranda doors; it is storming and raining and all the gutters on our land look like churning rivers. A Mozart violin concerto comes from the speakers. Coen is sitting opposite me behind his Mac. To write like I do. We cannot see each other because of the two screens standing in between us, but we know that we are there. He’s working on a book and so am I. We do not compete, but continue writing steadily. I certainly do, because my book has been in the making for a long time. We can talk again during lunch and dinner, because writing a book is a process that takes me and Coen completely into it. I always need an hour to travel back to the present. I do that while I’m in the kitchen. While cooking I distance myself from the manuscript entitled Child of the colonies, and come back slowly to Liesbeth on the farm in Marvão.
I am amazed at how quite my head can be. No distractions, the book and those Covid measures contribute to that. There is nothing to distract me. I have nowhere to go. Except going to the store to buy food and drinks. It started a year ago with that virus. One year, mind you! Gone yoga studio, gone lessons, gone courses, gone worrying about the well-being of others, except that of my family. In fact, requests for help declined. Most people turned inward. Me too.
I see messages from parents who work from home with children without going to school. I listen to my oldest son Alex talking about his kids without school attendance. I see the self-employed going down, shops closing. I follow it all and wonder what it’s all good for. I see people like sheep walking after the shepherd. They watch and keep silent and do what is said. A sheep will do that for life. And a human being?
I live in a luxurious position. Don’t have to worry about income just yet because as a so-called baby boomer I am on easy street, with my own land and house, water from tap and well, electricity (still) from the grid and vegetable garden. I live in a country where the sun shines three hundred days a year and where there are basic facilities. And last but not least, where everything still has the human dimension to me. I am grateful for all that.
I am reading two books: Revolusi by David van Reybrouck and The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab. The first because it is part of my history and I appreciate David writing about this oh, so sensitive topic in the Dutch-Indies community in Holland. The second book, because what it says might be the future of the world. At least that’s what der Klaus wants. I find the utopia outlined there misleading. But, I haven’t finished it yet. Mieke Mosmuller has finished the reading of the book and this philosopher, doctor and writer is clear in her observations. (Videos have English subtitles).
The generations after me will determine if that will be the case, that they will own nothing and that they will be happy with the leaders who own the lot, including them.
My own book is an insight into the history that shaped me as a child of the colonies. David’s the history of that former colony of Holland, Indonesia, as it came to him during his in-depth investigations and interviews. Schwab’s will determine the future for all the lame sheep that run to a dog instead of turn away, and frankly, I still feel it is a duty for a modern citizen of the world to learn of the future being mapped out for him. So I am also grateful that I can read and write.