Tag Archives: Forest

Drop

Robin was about to jump out of his nest, when his mother stepped on his tail.
“Did you smooth your feathers, Robin?”
“Yes, mom.”
“And will you promise to look after your sisters?”
“Moommm…” he moaned, while giving her a sad look.
“Robin and Robin hatched half a day later than you, so you have to act as the most responsible one.”
“But just I want to be with my friends!”
“Take them with you, I need to tidy up the nest and I have to gather worms for tonight, so they can’t stay here with me.”
Robin expressed a few more noises of disagreement, but was forced to accept his fate. What he really wanted was to be alone with his young palls, the brothers Robin and Robin. They would go fly audacious circles around the head of Mr. Vulpes, the fox. Robin, the younger of the two brothers almost got eaten yesterday when he flapped with his wrong wing at the wrong moment. He flew right between the jaws of the business-like killer, who was just too late with his snap. That was far more sensational than those boring games of search the caterpillar that his sisters always wanted to play. Still, he was glad he had the chance to stretch his wings after a long, cold night.

The trio flew towards the river, where Robin and Robin had their nest. Robin was slightly jealous of them. Their view over the river banks was far more interesting than the view out of his place. All day long the Robins could watch the motion of the water, or they could see the Otter family gather pieces of wood and place them carefully on their new dam. Sometimes they saw impressive ducks who crossed the river with their young ones, quacking about whatever is was they quacked about. Visitors thought that very entertaining.

When the young birds landed on the Robins’ nest, they each received a worm in their beak.
“They’re freshly caught” said Robin, the nest mother.
This worm had a fresher taste than the ones their mother fed them. Robin swallowed it at once.
“Let’s go” he said, visibly annoyed by the fact that he always had to wait for his sisters. They weren’t even halfway yet.
“Be patient, Robin,” said their mother “the girls are still eating. Didn’t your mom tell you to watch over them?”
“She did!” said Robin, her beak still full with squeezed worm making its final attempt to escape.
“Why did you bring your sisters?” whispered Robin.
“I had to, otherwise I couldn’t come.” answered Robin while he watched a toad take a plunge in the distance.
“Now we can’t play with Mr. Vulpes…”
“No. Maybe we can go for a swim…”
“Yes, that’s fun too.”
The boys waited a few more instants for the girls and got ready to take off.
“And don’t swim in the river, kids, the water is too high today.”
“Aww, mom, please…?” said her two sons at once.
“No, boys, it’s too dangerous. Why don’t you try to fetch some berries from the bushes?” Robin and Robin smiled at the thought of it.
“That’s boring…” said Robin.
“No it’s not, it’s very educative and you’ll practice several flight skills. Besides, you’re safer in the bushes. Now go. The Robins smoothed their feathers and went.

“Where shall we go?” asked Robin to one of the brothers while they left Robin and Robin at a distance. “I think we have to go look for a bush…” answered Robin sadly. “But I’d like to fly a little first” he added with a cheer “we’ve been sitting there all morning.” Down, they saw the Bunnies hop cautiously along a newly emerged pool, where they drank a sip.
“Wait”, yelled Robin, and he landed on a branch. “Let’s fly back and scare them with our shadows!”
“Then we should climb a little more so that we look bigger.” postulated Robin, who really liked the idea. They flapped up towards the sun. “The first one to make them run is the winner!” cried Robin as he steeply battled his way up against a southern zephyr. Below him, Robin made a swift turn to the left and projected a tiny shadow right besides the face of one of the rabbits. They stopped moving.

“Can we go on please?” asked one of Robins sisters from a lower branch. “I need to go to the bathroom.”
Robin could not answer because Robin was catching up with him, and he could not let that happen. He flapped him in the face and pushed him down, but dramatically changed his own direction in the process. He spiralled down sharply then found a thermal column and climbed a few branches higher, where he met Robin’s brother.

Robin and Robin felt abandoned.
“I really need to go” said Robin, who was using most of her lower muscles to keep her excrements in.
“Why didn’t you go when we were at the Robins’?” asked her sister desperately.
“I don’t know. I was okay there…”

Higher up, Robin and the Robin brothers learned to their disappointment that their shadows were too weak to truly scare the rabbits on the forest floor.
“Maybe we should try to synchronize our flights so that we seem a bigger bird?” suggested Robin. His brother always respected him for his clever ideas.
“Sounds good” he answered, and he landed on a branch, followed by the other boys.
“Don’t sit so close to me!” snapped Robin to his brother, and he flew to the other side of the branch.
“No clue what that’s about…” whispered Robin to Robin. “Maybe his egg was too small”. Robin cheeped a jolly laughter.
“What?” asked Robin, irritated.
“Forget it.” Answered Robin.
“Okay, let’s make a plan. We should time it well, all fly at the same time, exactly over the Bunny family and our shadow should be as big as it can. One should fly higher, one in the middle and the final one low. The lower one should always look for the higher one, so the top one leads, but we should stay close. Who wants to go where?”
They agreed that Robin would take the higher course, Robin the middle one and Robin the lower. They would fly along the crossing of the Beech branches, where they expected a perfect cast of shadow upon the Bunnies’ faces, causing the anticipated shock.
“Okay, everybody know their course? Let’s fly at zero.”
“Three , two, one…”

A white spot appeared on the face of one of the Bunnies. The family hurried into a bush.
“Did you see that?” asked Robin, who forgot to give the starting signal.
“Yes”
“Wow…” said Robin. “Was that one of your sisters?”
“I think it was Robin” Robin answered.
“WOO-HOOO! That was AMAZING!”
Robin jumped of the branch and dove down to the girls, cheeping and screaming with enthusiasm. His brother and Robin followed his lead.
“That was soooo cool!” he exclaimed, in a final swoop towards the branch. “Who did that?” He hurt his claw when he landed, but ignored it.
Robins face was red.
“It was an accident…” explained her sister.
“It was brilliant!” answered Robin. “Right in its face! We couldn’t have aimed better!” The other two now also landed on the branch and backed up his enthusiasm. The girls found it hard to reason with them, but enjoyed the sudden wave of attention.
“You just invented a perfect game, girls!” exclaimed their brother. “Who else has to go? Let’s look for Mr. Vulpes.”
“Yes! Let’s find him where he was yesterday!”
The boys agreed and flew off, the girls followed. Robin slowed down to wait for Robin, with whom he now had more to discuss. Her brother was not sure if he enjoyed suddenly sharing his palls with his sisters, but when he remembered the look on the rabbit’s face he smiled internally.

Mr Vulpes was not there. The five landed on a branch.
“I didn’t know you were such an exiting girl, Robin” said Robin, who was still full of enthusiasm. “You’re baaaad… I’ll call you badass Robin.” She began to cry. “Stop teasing her!” Said her sister. “I wasn’t teasing, I mean it!”
“Please don’t tell my mom…” said Robin.
“I’d never tell her.” answered Robin. Nor would the others, right?”
“No. Promise” said Robin. “Brothers are here to protect their sisters.” added Robin. That calmed her down.
“Let’s go look for berries” said their sister. “Then you’ll all be able to poop more.” Now that she was in on the secret, she might as well use it against them.
“She’s right”. Said Robin, thinking he could use a bite after all that flapping. They flew towards a bush and disappeared from sight.

“How was your day?” asked Robin when the youngsters landed on the nest later that day.
“It was okay…” said the boys.
“It wasn’t too bad” said the girls.
But downstream, the snake, the badger, the fox, a rabbit and a colony of ants were of a different opinion.

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Thesis Spiritual Experiences in Nature

For those who are interested, I wrote a thesis in 2011 on spiritual experiences in natural areas in the Netherlands. I got an 8,5 for it. I have have written an abbreviated version for publication, but it was rejected for one or two good reasons and a whole list of quite silly ones. My intention remains to publish it when I have more time. Whenever that may be.

Here it is:

Havik2011ThesisSpiritNature

Arguments for Forest Protection

Do you know what the problem is with nature conservationists these days? The way they treat arguments.

I was once present at a discussion during a course on wildlife management. Students were talking about how to conserve Wolves and Foxes and Bears. At one point it went towards reasons to conserve nature. I said that people do so because they love nature. I wasn’t taken seriously.

Throughout the years, I have been taught to give arguments on why one should protect forests. CO2, biodiversity, erosion, water storage, filtering… You name it, I’ve heard it. They taught me that I should never start a paper about forest protection without an explanation on the arguments to conserve a forest, because otherwise policy makers do not get it. That approach is wrong.

By giving arguments we create an impression that there is a discussion going on. Have you ever heard someone say: “I hate the forest” or ” Dunes, I despise them” or “Let’s bring down those mountains”? There is no discussion. We should protect nature at all costs. Entering this discussion is admitting doubt. There is no doubt.

By giving arguments on why forests should be protected -which is a different story than how– we invite policy makers to dismantle such arguments and counter them. And of course they will; if you think long enough you can argue that Hitler was a pretty decent guy. But the fact here is: there is no discussion.

Of course we should protect our last forests at all costs! Questioning that is questioning the core of our existence. To hurt nature is to hurt ourselves. Of course we should protect it. Of course!

Stop playing this game, society! The only reason you cut trees and destroy bushes is because you think other people want you to. Explain that to the lives you take! Explain it the soul you hurt every time you do. Your soul.

It’ll be glad to hear the arguments.

Awards

It takes some guts for a birch to grow its first branch. So too for Benny. While our little seedling pulls all his courage from the ground, scents travel back and forth through the forest. Seraph the Oak, on the open space a bit ahead, has a message.

“Fellow trees from the forest, the tree awards are about the take place once again. It promises to become a match like no other: the winter was strong and spring has brought us a fair balance of rain and sun. The conditions were perfect for growth and development, so the quality of the top trees will be very high this year.”

Of course, the old oak himself did not benefit that much from the favourable weather. With his years, his growth is slow and constant. He does not compete in the tree awards: he won all awards there are to win hundreds of years ago. As the forests oldest, he now only prepares and presents the contest.

The trees of the forest are exited every year when Seraph spreads the competitor’s scent. Who will be chosen this year? Will the most beautiful tree be Margaret the Magnolia again? Some spread Wilbert the Willow stands a chance for his pose near the pond when sun sets. The most robust tree will go to one of the older oaks, but will it be William or Abraham?

Benny does not mind who wins what. He is growing his branch. Young though he is, he already found a spot on the south east where he receives a lot of sun. His parents are proud and constantly show off to the trees around. “When he’s older, he’ll win the prize of the most adapted tree” says his mom. “Yes, and that will help him grow better, and he will win the broadest tree prize”. Birches usually don’t go for the price for the most robust tree. They stand little chance against oaks and the exceptional baobab winner.

Slowly but steadily Benny pushes the top of his branch out of his trunk. At first, it hurts a little to his thin young bark but his inner urge persists and he keeps pushing. The branch wants to go down: it has no support. But Benny the Birch would like it to grow upwards. He turns it a little. And back. And up. It’s like a game with a pull to the ground. Not aware of the big events that are about to take place.

The Tree Awards have become the most important social event of the year. They take place from dawn till dusk when the day is longest in the open space in the middle of the forest. Trees can’t walk there of course, so they send chemical signs, which are received by Seraph the Oak, who then signals back the decision of the forest community. None of the trees in the forest know exactly how it works but it yields outcomes every year and trees don’t really care about objectivity.

Nor does Benny as he carefully gives his first branch shape. He has no concept of an eye catching branch, he does as he feels fit. Grow a little. A branch. Left and right and back again. Into the sky he reaches. Happily stretching out his cells. Yes. He likes it. It is fun to grow.

“It is important that we grow” echo the scents through the air. “We should all be as close to the sky as we can. This is why we originally sowed the Tree Awards.” Over time, of course, they added some categories so that more trees would feel they could be part of the game, but the greatest tree award is without a doubt the most prestigious award in the forest. Some say that without these awards, trees soon forget to grow. There needs to be stimulation, or the forest might get lazy, which cannot be the Intention. Tree Awards are the summit of forest society. Its ultimate expression. The pride of our age. And be honest: where would we be without it?

Benny is about to grow a leaf on his branch. Leafs are quite different and they take a different effort to grow. Benny knows how. He’s done it before. You start with a little packed ball. In it, you grow little nerves, connecting all the parts of the ball. Main nerves and side nerves. It’s important that you grow them such that they don’t stick together. Once you feel secure about the nerves, you connect them with green tissue. Then, all that’s left to do is that you push. You pump fluids into the nerves and they’ll unroll into a leaf and you enjoy the light. Keep pushing and it’ll grow bigger. Benny likes to grow leafs. They make him feel good. He grows a few more.

Leafs are important in the Tree Awards. They show the quality of the tree that holds them. It is common knowledge among trees that leafs are vital for growth. With dark green leafs, more sugars are made and more energy can flow. But dark leafs get hotter than light leafs and they burn more easily. So there’s a risk involved, which makes the whole story even more exciting, particularly for adolescent trees. It wouldn’t be the first time that an audacious young one takes that little step too far and ends up with fiery leafburns.

That’s not Benny’s concern. His tiny leafs are always lighter than those of his older brothers and sisters. His parents are proud of anything he grows. If a leaf would grow too dark, his parents quickly grow a branch above, just to make sure he is ok. Benny doesn’t realize that.

Winners of the concourse receive a fair amount of nutrients. Other trees will transport it in their direction through their roots or drop some leafs when the wind blows towards them. Being winners, it is trusted that they’ll use them wisely.

Benny takes his joy in growing another root. Roots are funny because the ground is full of bugs who tickle from below. To grow a root, Benny has to pierce the soil and dig between their homes. The bugs don’t seem to mind that much, they simply move aside. Benny is happy about that because he likes bugs. When he’s big, he’d like to house some ants.

Dawn arrives. “Fellow trees of the forest,” Seraph’s scents set off a chain reaction among every Birch and Beech around. The hedges listen silently. Their competition does not take place till fall. “The Tree Awards have started. Please prepare yourself for the first vote”. Except repetition and amplification of Seraph’s words, the forest remains silent as can be. These words are always deeply respected; no tree dares to bring in anything now. Except Benny. He just hurt himself on a thistle’s thorn and now he’s crying for his mom. Mom strokes Benny with her branch. But she is not as soft and caring as usual. Never mind. She pushed the thistle away and Benny is free to play again.

To interpret the voices of the forest is a skill that requires hundreds of years to master. There are very few who can. You can imagine the great awareness needed to listen to all the trees in the forest at once. Those who have that awareness have great responsibility. Seraph is one of them. He has developed a sensitivity few can imagine. It’s as if a part of him is present at all spots at once. All trees of the forest feel him. That is why he is assigned this important task. Of course, he is not alone. Seraph relies on a network of older trees present all through the forest. Together, they quickly digest the messages of their surroundings and pulse the results back into the air.

Even at his age, Benny adds to this networking cloud of consciousness. Few take note of his infantile, unstructured expressions. His parents and grandparents perhaps, but barely, during the year’s most important event. Benny does not mind, especially now that a butterfly landed on his new branch. Benny is not that fond of butterflies. Flappy creatures he finds them. He doesn’t know yet how destructive their larvae can be. For the moment, this butterfly has no interest in Benny. He just flaps around, leaving Benny dizzy at the spot.

“We will start today,” Seraphs clear and strong chemicals spread “with the golden bark award. Please place your vote about who you think deserves the award of creator of the most remarkable bark of the forest”. The award for the most respectable bark was introduced not so long ago by a community of cork trees, just down the hill. Cork trees adore the bark like no other and they would do anything to do part of it for the forest’s assembly of respected items. Soon after this introduction it turned out, unfortunately, that their view of the most respectable bark differed somewhat from the forest’s public opinion. No Cork tree ever won the award. “Trees and Treeesses, the vote was expressed”.  Even if this is not the most important award these words raise the tension enormously. The trees of the forest know that the awards have begun. “And this year’s winner of the golden bark is…” this is the most decisive moment of the awards for the Corks. “Quinten the Plane”.  A small cheer from a corner of the forest. “This years bark prize was based on Quintens exceptionally beautiful pattern”. Admitted, he’d been working hard to make his mosaic smooth as he could. Just down the hill, the cork community cries injustice. They voted for several trees in their community, none receives the prize. It’s not fair.

Till now, Benny the Birch had little a bark at all. Lately he had the idea of becoming a bit more woodier, so he did thicken somewhat around the edges. But his is far from the impressive white bark which his brother Jim the Birch brags about all the time. Jim secretly hoped for this prize. Benny had no clue, he enjoys growing one more leaf. That bark will come.

On the open spot, Seraph the Oak continues his careful process of interpreting. Wally the Walnut-tree goes nuts when he wins the golden nut. The golden flower goes to Maggie the Magnolia, with Edward the Elderblossom as a close second. Fanatic cheers and shouts alternate each other in a wavy sea of scents.

For the first time in his centuries old existence, Seraph grants the greatest tree award with a fundamental doubt. “Are these awards a good thing? Aren’t we needlessly benefitting the strong? Shouldn’t we be fertilizing the weak instead”. These thoughts usually occur to a queer tree in a dark corner of the forest. But Seraph has this thought and when a tree has a thought it cannot withhold it. So it is expressed.

The cheering ends abruptly, making space for a vast silence in the woods, interrupted only by some disrespectful birds. Noisy creatures they are.

This never happened before. Not from a tree of this status. Questioning our forests pride.

When he has to speech, Abraham Oak, winner of the golden tree, does not know what to say. Nor does any other tree of the forest. It remains silent.

Benny is about to grow his second branch. It will take guts.

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Joining forces

The trip to here was long but fun. A new meeting with Jordi, pizza in the dark, a tent in the forest and self made sounds at the shore. Our host family is a bunch of French loonatics with big hearts and today we slept on a cozy attick, barely bigger than the tent itself. Comawise.

At the start of this session, Mphathelene shared how her family sees her. As a demon. She’s one of the few who fight for sacred sites and values, in spite of christian propaganda. More of her kind parttake. The tears of some have brought the group closer together. Participants listen openly to one another. “I think fundamentalists do most of the harm.” Says Jessica from Massachusets. Jordi and I have had good fun trying to pronounce “Massachusets”. I challenge those present to love their enemies. It’s easy for me to say; I have no enemies, but some people close their eyes and do it briefly.

All people here – some from the remotest tribes – feel deep purpose in this gathering: to experience, share and cherish what is important for us in this life. As long as we focus on that, I don’t believe there is an enemy.

Wodan

Fifteen men around a fire. One o’clock in the afternoon. We’re eating soup prepared by Veronica, resting from a morning of hard work. From willow branches we build walls while we burn a vast amount more. The ambiance is peaceful: we are here by choice, it’s nice to work outside together and the scent of spring is in the air.

“Wodan”. Raouls words are mine today, and mine are his. He is our guide on a biking tour through the past. Julian, Katia and Elishka live in the east, but are back for the weekend. On city bikes we are on a mountain bike trail through forest and heather. One year ago we were housemates; today it feels like nothing changed. Bound by our love for nature. We just had a picnic in the fields dancing and singing just for fun.

“We need beer”. Says Harmen. We agree that wine will not do. All the work is done. I estimate that we have burned about a ton today. By doing so, we have discovered a new campfire spot in Droevendaal, and we are not intending to leave it for the next couple of hours. It would be respectless to turn our backs on this powerful mass of coles. In one hour, we’ll get beer delivered by friends. An hour later, delicious indian food, cooked by another friend. We’ll draw in the coals. Instruments will come, and tonight we’ll be dancing here arm in arm with over twenty boys and girls.

Deep out of the grounds of the forest near Wolfheze, grow six five hundred years old oaks, locally known as Wodan’s oaks. This must be my fifth visit. My connection to them becomes more powerful every time. When we stand in front of one, its bark soft of the moss, Elishka suggests to hug it together. We do so compassionately. This group will soon fall apart again, but these Wodans, anchored, will keep nurturing our dreams with relief.

Yes and No

As I turn my face towards her, I know that something intense is about to happen. I hear myself say: ”So right now I am yes to you, and you are no to me.” The words come from deep and reach out deep while our eyes connect in a second of reciprokal gaze. Undivided by our dividedness.

2001. I am standing in the forest in the dark. A stage in front of us. Many liters of free beer. Marieke has the microphone and starts to sing. What a voice. By the end of the concert, I’ll be out of my mind. And I’ll stay in love with her for years.

“No!”.”No!”.”No!” So, would you like to become a donator? “No!”. While I say yes to almost everything, I’ve been hearing a lot of no’s in the past months. This job, that job, the house I’m living in and now most of the people I’m talking with on the street. “Ok, have a nice day!” But between the many conversations I have had today, Marieke stands in front of me. We often met by coincidence. “Hey!”

Now, we’re sitting at a table in the Vondelpark, equal in essence, impersonating yes with fresh mint tea and no with a coffee, while the trees are preparing for their outburst of spring. She just told me how she quit her jobs to the dissatisfaction of her colleagues and how she broke up with her guy after he asked her to marry him. “You always bring out the hippy side in me”. It’s in times like these that I see the colours of the energies. I am aware that things flow into each other obviously as our smiles do now.

“Will you be my girlfriend?” Looking back, I could have chosen a more romantic setting than the schools main entrance. I had wanted to, but never dared. Hey, it was my first time. Her answer can be summarized in a short but painful ”No”. Little did I know then that in over ten years, this would contribute to a cosmic click.

The Grid

“Place the bar on the moving band. Then the next client can put his groceries there!” Her voice is binding. The open space between my food and the articles of the couple behind me is at least one third of a meter. Not clear enough. I place the bar. With this act I clearly separate our future belongings. Almost before I lifted my hand from it, the couple, acting as one, puts the bar perfectly right in the middle of the moving band, perpendicular to its side. What follows is a sudden reorganization of the groceries behind me. The couple places their bread at exactly one centimetre from the bar, parallel to it. Another centimetre away: a pot of jam. Ham. Gurkins. Toilet paper. So they go, until everything lies exactly one centimetre apart from the rest. As I watch them construct this grocery grid, a discomfort creeps into my spine.

“That’ll be 12.48 please” says the cashier.

I put my pass in the machine, type 9-6-3-1 and pack my bag. Paid. Macaroni and cheese tonight.

I walk outside. The street cleaner must have just passed. I see a Dalmatian in a zebra suit, held on a line by a lady who appears to have made a separate plan for every hair on her head. I unlock my bike. My bike has a character: the frontal rim is slightly loose. When I hit the pedals its rattling noise and the shriek of my unoiled wheels find their way through the street, bouncing back and forth over the smoothened walls. A man in a black suit looks at me in intense disgust.

“So what?” I think. And as if the man has heard my thoughts, a fierce “SHAME ON YOU!” echoes behind me through the streets.

My mind wanders of to yesterday night. We were making a campfire in the woods with some friends. Our view was marvellous: a red sunset on a lake, seen from the top of a hill. Fish. Freshly caught, on the grill. The aroma of smoke and just a little salt completed a perfect day. We wished for such natural freedom to stay in our lives forever. How different is the city life?

A little disrupted, I now try to make as little noise as possible. Though the streets are as crowded as usual, there is an uncanny silence around today. As if everybody purposefully holds himself in line. It accentuates the beeps and shrieks.

I place my bike in a rack. More bikes are placed in a row. Straight up. Saddle erect.

“HEY! Put your bike up properly, like everyone!”

The woman who yells it has blond hair till her shoulders. Her face looks symmetrical, clean, with feminine as well as masculine aspects. Not extremely beautiful, but not ugly either.

“Oh, sorry”. Before I know it, I have put my bike up and straight. I notice that the cars driving by maintain equal distances from each other. Their speed is slow and constant. I dare not look at the drivers. Walking to the bookshop I silently tread the tiles, not crossing their borders. My nerves seem to get to their limit.

The bookshop is cubical. Books of different colours and sizes have been carefully laid down in piles of equal heights. There are different structures: squares, circles, triangles, a pentagon… All displayed with chirurgical precision. In the middle of the room hangs a collection of books of which the sizes and the shapes perfectly fit together to form a tetrahedron, turning loosely in the air. Despite of the people, it is the only movement in the room.

The books in the perfectly shaped piles are not ordered alphabetically or by category. When I pick one up, a sound goes off.

“SIR! Don’t touch the books! You will mess them up!” A woman with thick square glasses, a black coat and a tight black skirt looks at me with straight black eyebrows that point down towards the centre of her face. She runs at me, grabs the book from my hands, takes a frontal position to the place where it used to lie, bends over with a straight back, and lays it back with the care as you would a baby.

“Sorry”. I say.

“Sir, you should not act as recklessly as you just did, picking up books like that”

“I was looking for a book about sacred geometry”

“There is nothing sacred about geometry” says the woman. “But if you want a book, you should stand in the queue.” Her finger points at the empty space behind a straight line of patient people. I walk towards it, take my ruler out of my pocket, and measure the distance between the last person in the line and the one before him. 33. I try to do the same with the two before them.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m measuring the distance between you and him.”

“Please don’t. There is no need. It’s thirty three centimetres.”

I count twelve people in the line. The woman has returned to the desk and takes the orders. Every time a customer asks for a book, she walks to one of the shapes in a slow and even pace. She gets a book from the pile, and replaces it with a book she brought along from her desk every time. It always takes her a while to put the new book back perfectly, but when it fits, she walks back with the same pace, hands the book over to the client and asks for the payment.

“That’ll be 22,44 please.”

“Hey tall mister! You are not standing at the proper distance in the queue. The proper distance is thirty three centimetres.” When I do a step ahead, he follows. When I turn around and do a step towards him, he steps back, looking at me with an angry face.

“I said thirty three centimetres!” He says every time a customer finishes his transaction and the line moves forward as if steered by one mind. During the six last customers I manage to keep my stalker silent. I dare not breathe.

When I finally arrive at the desk of the book sales, I ask for my book about sacred geometry.

“There is no such thing” she says. She walks away at the same pace. This time she grabs a ladder which she carefully installs below the shape of the tetrahedron. Step by step she climbs on it. She takes one of the books of the upper ridge, replacing it slowly and with a steady hand. When she is finally back, she hands it over. The cover shows a print of an oak.

“I am sorry, miss, but I asked for geometry. You give me a book about an oak”.

“Sacred geometry is nonsense. This is a Boak. Pay.”

I accept the Boak and pay 22,44. After all I like oaks. When I give her a smile, I see a tiny blade of grass coming out of the end of her pointy nose. So I exit the bookshop.

My attention is drawn by three eagles crossing the sky. I watch them till they have become too small to see, wondering where they’ve gone. A tiny white feather whirls down, followed by the leaf of a red rose. On the spotless grey street, their presence seems like an insult to all that is without life. This feather and this leaf ridicule all who have fought for this. For just a sec, I am at peace.

A scream. High pitched, coming from the bookshop. People seem suddenly tense. They have abandoned the orderly and now look around with a fear in their eyes. The silence on the street has passed. I grab my bike, unlock it and drive away. With the same noises.

I turn around the corner. The greenness of the once grey compels me. The ghostly walls from before are now entirely ivy-grown. The plants absorb my bikes calls. Instead, I hear the chirping of locusts here and there. I can not make out if I am puzzled or delighted. I continue my way home. But before I have crossed half of the street I notice that the ivy is moving gently. In fact, it is creeping up the road. By the time I reach the end of the street, the plants have almost reached my bike. If I stop now, they will catch a hold on it. Things in the next street are barely better. People are screaming; their heads are covered with grass, rooted in their skulls. Someone tries to run inside but finds that little roots have shot out of his toes. They now find their way between the tiles into the ground. The man waves with his arms, but out of his fingers grow leafed branches holding themselves back on the wind. His movements cease and before anyone knows it, there stands a broad little birch growing to the sky. A pigeon lands on its top.

I make haste, but as I go the asphalt rises and an enormous beech erupts out of the ground. I crash upon it and a squirrel falls on my head. It quickly runs back into the tree, looking back one more time before it disappears. My bike is broken now, so I run in despair. A sticky substance seeps out of the scratch the squirrel made. Birds’ songs deafen my ears while they still can. My nails are bark and I have a strong broccolic feeling where my lungs once where. Next to me, a hortensia emerges out of the depths of a poor man’s throat. People around are growing in all directions, leaving their dogs to bark at them and at the boar that just showed up. Should they hold or charge?

Tomato-hearted, I try to get towards my front door, but it is turning into rock as the cells in my veins grow their own little walls. My feet’s roots meander over the street. My testicles go nuts. I feel how my spine gets taller and woodier. Juices flow up and down to my brain which is now spawning snails out of my ears. They tell me that the city has been overrun. I believe them.

While my head bursts open and branches shoot into the air, a safety enters what is left of my mind. We are naturals. The last thing I see is a bunch of pumpkins dangling down an electricity cable. They seem to enjoy it. Drunk with force, I reach deeper into the ground and find delicious juices. I feel them entering my trunk from below and flow up into the air.

Later that day, a white moth decides take a little flight around the woods. It is silent outside. He flies to the pond and has a freshening drink of a big purple flower. It smiles at him. Behind them, somewhere deep inside the forest hidden under a pluck of moss, lies a book with a big old oak on its cover. It’s making a giggling sound.