2012. FROM TRAM TO VEGETABLE GARDEN

I have moved house, left the city. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city and its liveliness, the trees and the doves. But it was time for change. I did not want to wake up to the chinking of the tram. I wanted to wake up to the sound of my rooster crowing. I missed the fruit trees in my gran’s garden. And I wanted to feed the chickens with Olle and let him taste radishes from our own garden.

So we started on a new life and went in search of space, views and fields disappearing into the distance. An endless field of wheat is not boring. It is peace, and that is exactly what I need – it’s busy enough in my head. The house hunt alone was unforgettable. We got the map out and all my girlfriends crowded round and gave us advice and told us about remote locations. We looked everywhere. Sometimes romantically with just the two of us, and often with Olle too. One visit went better than the other. Sometimes we could not find a house. Or it was not as rural as we had hoped. And the one time we simply never got there. Not because we could not find it, but because my head was like a sieve and I had completely forgotten that cars need petrol once in a while. So there we were, among all the bulb fields and we could do nothing but wait for help. Our knights in white armour were two humorous men, brothers who lived in the area. They had coffee in a thermos flask, a jerry can full of petrol, bright and shiny fluorescent jackets, and a golden tip. When we told the brothers what brought us to the bulb fields, the older brother pointed to the house next to the windmill. He knew that it would soon be up for sale and he told us who we needed to talk to. This just goes to show that chaos, my chaos, always brings something good.

And so here we are then. My three older brothers helped us enormously. They may be teases, but if I need them they are always there for me. They stayed for three days and they worked terribly hard. They carried the piano to the front room, tiled the kitchen, and papered all the walls. Except for the wall on the landing as I stuck old card, letters and family photos all over it. I am thinking about where to hang Aunt Rieneke’s big embroidery and I still can’t find my big tea pot. And perhaps it would be better to move the piano to the back room, next to the sliding doors.

Refreshing breezes blow through the open windows. If I look outside I see the neighbour’s horse in the meadow, two swans in love in the pond next to it and finches on my washing line. I belong here. There is no such thing as coincidence: the house in which I was born was also next to a windmill. I enjoy rural life. Olle and I still snack like mad, but we now eat our own cherries, plums and blackberries. And a fresh lemon and apple pie can’t be bad for you, can it?

The move has brought many good things with it. Not only for me, in case that’s what you think. Now that I have left the city, my old neighbourhood is definitely doing better. I now play the piano without disturbing anyone. And nobody trips over my bicycle anymore. I don’t want to go back to my old house, but I’m not going to lie. Moving house is also saying farewell. And I don’t like farewells. I have left my old, comfortable street. I have left Li-La, my sweet Chinese neighbour from whom I learned so much every day, simply because I am her opposite. Li-La is Zen. I bet that she never had holes in her tights when she was little. She is completely organised in a quiet and natural way. Li-La is never late, never loses anything and would never be stuck without petrol. Everything about Li-La is in balance. She created a beautiful little garden for everyone around the elm in our old street. She planted bulbs and cuttings and watered them until a small oasis grew in the stony street. I miss her every day.

I am now making moving cards and invitations for the housewarming. It’s a lot of puzzling, the whole table is covered with cuttings. Wonderful. Nothing is more inspiring than a new view. I now know what I will do with all the bric-a-brac that was in the attic in the old house. I am going to make bags. And I will give the prettiest bag to Li-La. I can’t wait. 

Love and kisses from PiP