Memory, a game I loved to play.
Glimpses of one’s childhood, memories reignited by holding the long forgotten objects in your hands, you find yourself traipsing along a path overgrown with changing views. The unquestionable realisation that there is no past to go back to, as far away as another universe and although you know you cannot go back, you do remember precisely that one particular moment, you can recall the exact sensation, without, sadly, being able to feel it again, because you are a different person, you know it to be true.
Several packages intended for the Project have arrived over the past couple of weeks. You may have witnessed Julie’s send off over a year ago just before Christmas celebrations and Nancy’s recent input, which was a long while in the making. Grace sent the painted pumpkin pod into which the frowning frog jumped before we could bat an eyelid. Inspired by all this, a week or so later, Mo from Down Under sent the Koala bear. As he appears to be very taciturn and when he does feel like talking it is so softly we haven’t yet been able to establish what he is saying, nor are we even sure we are speaking the same language. As no one here speaks Koalese, communication is therefore limited. In the meanwhile we decided to call him Luke, the reason being rather tragic, I will return to that in a later post.
Apart from contributions from abroad a few friends closer to home have also left their marks, Marjan, Jennie, Wim and Jet, to name just a few.
Last Thursday afternoon yet another package was delivered by the friendly young man who drives around all day in his white delivery van. I was taken by surprise, as this one came from my mother and she had not informed me a box was on the way. Previously Nancy, Grace and Mo had mailed to me to be on the lookout, so had Julie after which she had asked me to forget about it, which I promptly did.
I was very happy upon opening my mother’s box, even though the contents weren’t for me but for the Dwelling’s inhabitants, as there were many small objects in it that brought back childhood memories. Others are not familiar, either due to failing faculties or they were given to my mother over the years since I left home.
Which brings me to another subject I want to talk about today: home, what constitutes a home? Is it a place, geographically locatable, the memory of a specific place, both, neither? Is it more to do with feeling, emotions, shared experiences? ‘cos when I talk about ‘home’ there is more than one place I can call home: the house we now live in in Heukelum, my parents’ house in Maastricht, the house we lived in as a family before that in Brigg UK; I don’t think of the other places I have lived in as ‘home’, not any more.
I live in a small house which I share with my husband and our two sons* plus the dog; we have named the house ‘t Vogelhuisje i.e. the Birdhouse; it is surrounded by a large garden, all is relative however by Dutch standards I believe my short description is apt.
*despite the fact our eldest moved out two weeks ago, it is of course still his home
It’s called the Birdhouse because there are lots of birds in the garden and they too consider it their home, pretty obvious. But also and more importantly because, before the house we moved into, which was built in or around 1987 by the guy we bought it from, there stood an old more or less derelict house situated in the foot of the dike; it was owned by an old woman who herself was no longer able to live in it. She stayed in an old people’s home, whether by choice or no, I don’t know, I never met her. The years she no longer lived here, she let a birdwatchers group use her house as a shelter when they came to watch and count birds in this neighbourhood, hence our reason for naming the newly built house we eventually moved into the Birdhouse.
There is needless to say more to a home than a house and a garden, and a possible history. There is in my case a studio, de Vogelhut i.e. the Birdhut, and within the walls of said studio yet another home, we now name the Dwelling. The Dwelling came into being after many, many creatures who had gathered here for one reason or another, decided they weren’t leaving and even though they had seemed comfortable enough with the temporary measures in place, once it was clear they were staying, they demanded better living accommodations. I like them and I like being liked in return so I caved in to their collective pressure and built them a more permanent place to live in. Boy, o boy, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
It was very simple and basic to begin with, but in the course of only a few years rooms have been added, the structure itself has been altered and improved upon, furniture was custom-built or gifted and upcycled. There are now three fully equipped kitchens. Plus we have a proper chef de cuisine and his sous-chef. There are also numerous bedrooms, just the one bathroom, I’m not sure one is enough but as they have never asked me to build another I’m pretty confident they have other toilet arrangements.
|sometimes there's just too much choice!|
|did you know mr.PR plays the guitar Nancy? and one of Julie's birds the castagnets|
The most important room is of course the OldBirdKing’s as he himself is one of the most important beings; I know we’re all supposed to be equal and stuff, but you know we can’t all claim to be wise, compassionate, gregarious and modest at the same time (which OBK doesn’t claim for himself but it is so obvious to the rest of us he so is) and we also know we need a leader, especially since the group has grown so much. The original Gang was small and now has so many members I’ve stopped counting, and as there is always room for one more, numbers don’t really matter. Flocks of birds have flown in from across the ocean, followed by horses, the odd cow, dogs, ladies, bears, cats, babies and we even have a Dutch boy return to the fold. Insects continue to come and go as they please and although they don’t say a lot their beautiful presence is felt. Critters from all walks of life tend to drop by, sometimes staying just for one night, other times they stick around and we don’t even notice, that’s how laid back the whole scene is. Word has apparently spread the Dwelling is open.
|BirdBoy fooling around with the Mexican sombrero and poncho; what did I tell you about food arriving regularly: the duck delivering fresh fish!|
|sorry about that, who made this photo?|
Fortunately providing food on the various tables has not been a problem as boxes with seeds and nuts, crates full of fresh fruit and vegetables and bottles full of all they could possibly want arrive on a regular basis. As do a variety of meats and sausages, worms and whatnot. They eat in style too, thanks to generous gifts of countless dinner services, cooking utensils, teapots, coffeepots, cups saucers and milk jugs, gorgeous glasses served on dainty trays; hygiene is maintained by the odd toothpaste and toothbrushes, flowery soaps, soft towels and rainwater; beds are covered by jolly sheets and warm woollen blankets, the beings can choose whatever clothing they desire; and there’s enough to keep them busy what with all the buckets, mops, brooms, books, a laptop, telephones, an easel, ping-pong table, even fire wood and a saw! Meaning there remains little for me to do, haha, only joking………The Project c’est moi, to paraphrase Flaubert.
The silver coffee service was one of my favourites, it’s Mexican and was one of many exotic presents my father brought back from his business trips, he travelled mainly to Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and the States. We always looked forward to his return, not merely for the man himself, I suspect the child in me awaited the gifts with just as much excited anticipation. At times we were of course disappointed as it was not always quite what we had yearned for, alas, what life worth living does not experience the occasional suffering due to unrealistic expectations. Enough of that! one more image of what the box gave us:
|the merry-go-round is very entertaining, both for the onlookers as the little people riding the wooden horses|