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“Farewell, I could grow a tree in your absence”.The text is written in large letters on a plank in the vicinity of Voerendaal; they have been cut or gouged out of the wood as if the wood itself is part of the message, part of the tree that grew in your absence.  These words by the Dutch poets Maria Barnas move me deeply, they show so many possibilities.

Farewell, I will plant a tree in your memory. Farewell, I fill the emptiness with a tree, with nature. Farewell, a tree can grow big in your long absencee. Farewell, I can wait till a tree has grown up. Farewell.

Last weekend I walked the last three days of the Pilgrims’ path, or almost anyway. On Friday the weather was good for walking and that was when I found that plank on my path. During the night it started to rain and all of Saturday was filled with rain, drizzle and dripping. The famer at whose place I camped offered me his barn in stead of my cold and wet tent. My muscles were sore and stiff anyway that Sunday, my shoes still wet and my feet still tired. The weather forecast for that Sunday predicted rain in the afternoon but I had had enough of that for a bit. After a beautiful morning through woods filled with birds’ sounds I called it a day and took the bus to Maastricht. I will reach Visé another time and my big challenge will come anyway when I leave for Belgrade on July 30th.

With all that rain you ask yourself why you’re still walking? A couple of years ago I was walking with a friend near Amsterdam and there I saw this family with a small baby on a long distance walk through the rain. I wondered then how much fun they felt this was? Now I know it’s not only about fun. It’s the walking, the experience, the movement. When you walk, you walk. Weather is of secondary importance.



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