Column Buitenkunst

Verstoppertje

Het mooiste moment van verstoppertje spelen vond ik wanneer je nog niet gevonden was. Ik kon me voor even onttrekken aan de wereld en er in gedachten één bedenken die mij beter paste. En als mijn ouders vrienden op bezoek hadden, zat ik het liefst achter de bank met een boek. Een wereld in een wereld. Een plek waar het altijd warm was, ook al sloeg op papier de sneeuw en ijzige wind om je oren. Ook als het slecht afliep.

Toen ik op mijn vierentwintigste in Londen woonde, /Lees verder…

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Typemachinegedichten

Ze zijn er! De afgelopen jaren heb ik regelmatig gedichten geschreven op diverse evenementen, en als onderdeel van het collectief ‘de Verhalendames’. Samen met vormgeefster Nicky Duin van Nikitis Ontwerpbureau zijn er nu vijf prachtige ansichtkaarten in beperkte oplage. Om in te lijsten, maar liever nog, om te versturen met een persoonlijke boodschap. Leve de handgeschreven brief! Binnenkort te koop via de website.

SCHEMERING

Het zit erop! SCHEMERING, een voorstelling van Stichting Theatermanifestatie IJmond, toverde vier dagen lang Kasteeltuin Assumburg om tot een absurde, vreemde wereld rondom de vraag ‘Mag ik erbij?’. Een populist, een Faun en een Boeman, prachtige decors, ruim 150 deelnemers en 1500 bezoekers. Trots dat ik deze voorstelling heb mogen schrijven, en projectleider mocht zijn van zo’n gaaf team.
Nieuwsgierig? Bekijk hier de trailer!

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Boeklancering: Op avontuur…

Samen met illustrator Tjarko van der Pol werkte ik de afgelopen vier jaar aan zestien verhalen voor een nieuwe culturele leerlijn basisonderwijs, met een aantal prachtige personages, spannende verhalen en bijzondere raadsel. En nu zijn al die verhalen eindelijk verzameld in een boek. Op 13 september lazen een aantal kinderen voor uit deze verhalenbundel, kregen we interessante vragen en mochten we natuurlijk signeren. Het boek is gemaakt in opdracht van Centrum voor de Kunsten Beverwijk
en nog steeds te koop, namelijk hier!

 

Columbina en Harlekijn gaan op avontuur. Thuis, in de achtertuin, op vakantie, met de trein, in een drakenboot of met het vliegtuig. Samen met hun vrienden Pierrot en Capitano maken ze de meest spannende en bijzondere dingen mee, ontmoeten vreemde figuren en reizen zelfs door de tijd.3b07d1b913ec5f558b75214f1a6fb8703684ff39

Column voor Bladkant

“ALSOF IK ALLEEN HIER, OMRINGD DOOR RUST EN NATUUR, DE ELLENDE IN HET VERHAAL OBJECTIEF KAN BESCHRIJVEN, MOORDEN KAN PLEGEN EN DE SMERIGHEID KAN VOELEN.”

Ik zit op de veranda van een oude, Amerikaanse boerderij met een deken en een grote kop koffie. Het is begin februari en de zon doet het laatste restje sneeuw smelten.

Naast deze plek voor schrijvers bestaat Norwood uit niet veel meer dan een kerkje, een handvol huizen en overgroeide herinneringen. Net naast de kerk ligt een spoorlijn. Een paar keer per dag rijdt er een goederentrein met veel kabaal voorbij.  //Lees verder//

 

 

A Special Gift

We woke up at six to beat the others to the bushes. Grandmother and I were wobbling down the tracks, not yet fully awake. Most of the houses we passed along the way were still unlit. Grandma says not to trust the dark, or the neighbours. “For all we know,” she says, “they could already be in the forest or having breakfast in the dark.” Sometimes I believe she’s paranoid. Then again, she has every right to be.

Grandma also believes the key to success is to make as little noise as possible. That advice works for more than just collecting the best berries. Once, when mum and dad where yelling like monkeys, I just slipped out of the house. Much like a burglar trying to escape. When hours later I sneaked back in, nobody had noticed I’d been gone.

This morning I try to be extra quiet because it’s an important day. It’s the first day of the blueberry season and the more berries we collect now, the more wood we’ll have for winter. You see, grandmother sells jam and marmalade to the tourists on the Christmas market in Stockholm. “Fröken Marmelad” is how she calls herself, Miss Marmalade.From the money she earns, she buys wine, wood and wool. “All you need to get through the winter,” Grandma says. But I always see her eating stew, so I know that’s not true.

There’s a good reason I’m allowed to join today, perhaps two. The first good is reason is that I never squeeze too hard. If you squeeze the blackberries too hard the juices get stuck in the space between your fingers. A waste of jam, Grandma would say. But that won’t happen with my hands. My hands are froglike; there are webs between my fingers. Grandma often shakes her head when she looks at them. It is only during blackberry season she can’t stop telling me I received a gift from God. That’s because I can carry four or five extra blackberries in each hand. There is space for one in each web. Some days I even manage to get two between my thumb and index finger. I believe that is the second good reason I’m allowed to join.
When we get to the secret blueberry spot nobody’s there. “We beat them,” Grandma says. “Now don’t waste time and let’s pick those blue bastards.”

One by one we pick the berries and gently place them in the baskets. For every fifty blueberries I pick, I get one for myself. It’s my little secret and I have to chew without Grandma noticing. She would surely mention that it’s a waste of jam, again.
“Next time you should bring your friends to help,” Grandma says. She waves her blue hands up in the air as if to bid the blueberries to magically fall off and save us some time. They don’t even wobble. I just nod.

Grandma doesn’t know that – unlike picking blueberries – friendship is difficult when you’re my age. Not that I hope it will get better when I’m older. Mum and dad hardly ever have friends joining for dinner. And it’s not that they are unfriendly or have froglike hands like me. And for Grandma it is easy, because when you’re old you have grandchildren. Who needs friends when you have those?

We pick and pick and by the time we’ve almost filled our two large baskets, the others arrive. Old man Dave is there and Laura’s mom. They also brought two people I don’t know. “Hi Laura’s mom! Where’s Laura?” I ask. Laura’s mom probably didn’t hear me because nobody answers. Then old man Dave turns to Grandma and almost spits in one of our baskets.
“A waste of spit, Dave. Such a waste,” Grandma says. I laugh. Nobody else finds it funny, but I don’t mind. Old man Dave looks at the two filled baskets again.  “A waste of blueberries, one might say.”
“And why’s that?”
“ It’s common knowledge that people like you can’t make a proper jam.” Dave laughs. Laura’s mom and the two strangers laugh too. This time, I don’t understand what’s so funny.
“People like me?” Grandma says. Now she’s laughing too.
Old man Dave says something about stealing their blueberries and that it is unfair to wake up before the sun does. I never knew that it was a rule, or that they owned the blueberries. During all of this, Laura’s mom waves her arms as if trying to chase away some animal. And Grandma just stands there, proud like a statue.
Now Laura’s mom starts to shout. “Just go! And take that freak of a child with you.”
Grandma hesitates but then pulls me away from the bushes onto the track. In movies and stories this is where people raise their voice, pull a gun or lose their temper. But in my life, Grandma’s eyes get all wet as we silently walk away.

Grandma walks really fast, so I almost have to run not to be left behind. It is really hard to run with a basket full of…I forgot them. The blueberries. Now I start to cry. “We have to get back, Grandma. The blueberries. The wine and wood.” Grandma turns towards me and takes my hand. “You don’t need that much wood for chicken stew, we’ll be fine.” I’m not sure if I believe her. But as soon as we get home she makes me hot chocolate and I calm down a bit. With my eyes I follow her through the kitchen; the world smells of fruit and sugar. “Why did they call us different?” I ask. “I always thought they didn’t like me because of my frog-hands, but you don’t have them, Grandma.”
Grandma stops stirring with the ladle, but she doesn’t turn around. She stares at the fruit and sugar and it feels like a really long time before she answers.

“…Because some people forget that being different can sometimes mean you’ll be able to carry a few extra berries.”

 

The Porches Writers’ Retreat

From Washington D.C. it’s a three-hour drive to Norwood: a place you normally wouldn’t visit driving through the country. And a place that consists of nothing more than a church, a couple of houses and a writing retreat for those who wish to be away from it all. The nearest supermarket is in Lovingston and it will take you about 20 minutes to get there. The railroad track lies right next to the church, and I can see the train pass by when sitting on the porch. I can imagine in the old days they would have a small station here, where people could stay the night or grab a beer. I find no evidence of a station, but supposedly there’s an abandoned hotel on the other side of the road that had been used during the time Norwood was a vibrant recreational town along the James River.

The old American farmhouse is cosy, nicely decorated and whenever possible I sit on the porch covered in a blanket with a big mug of coffee or tea. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere this quiet on my own, and apart from the occasional train, car or conversation it is completely silent. Silent in a sense that you can actually hear the tiny little movements that nature makes when nobody’s listening. There’s the sound of the river gently moving towards the ocean or the songs of frogs and birds. The cows are too far away to hear them graze, but from time to time they’ll great you with a happy moo.

At what people here call ‘right across the river’ – which means driving for about 20-30 minutes – there is an ashram by the name of Yogaville. It made me curious enough to see for myself. Yogaville has meditation sessions, yoga classes, silent prayers and a lot of shrines on the foot of the blue mountain ridge. The L.O.T.U.S. temple is near the James River and from one of the viewing points you can see this building with its pink and blue dome resting in an unmistakably American landscape. It looks like a birthday cake or a brightly coloured pudding has been placed directly onto the grass for a picnic. Compared to all the churches around here it’s an odd sight, but one that is comforting too. Having lived in Kathmandu for three months I can’t help but to compare. The shrines and temples are all too neat and fluent to have that real authentic feel to it. Nonetheless the sculptures of the gods and goddesses are as colourful as I remember them. The buildings near the main hall look more like buildings you’ll find in a scout camp, but inside the smell of incense can’t be easily ignored.

After parking at the visitors centre I was immediately invited to join for lunch for a couple of bucks, but I declined and took off with a sincere ‘Namaste’. They have short trails on the premises taking you from one place to another. Going downhill only to go up again I encountered a shrine on top that overlooks the hills on the other side of the river. Down below you could see the giant temple. The trail leading towards it was marked ‘around the mountain’, and I was coming round quickly. Unfortunately the temple was closed for lunch, as I would have loved to see what the inside had in store for me. The trail continued towards the organic farm, which looked kind of abandoned, and then through the forest alongside these tiny little streams. A small stone Buddha was meditating underneath one of the trees in the orchard and a few deer hurried away at the sight of me. I rested a bit at the alcove, where raindrops made little holes in the frozen pond, before heading back to the car. I understand why one would choose this place to meditate, although I’d rather sit on the porch instead.

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