The fiery orange sun was already dipping into the water of Lake Grevelingen by the time we got there. Our fellow foundation doctors, who were manoeuvring very confidently between the sharp-edged rocks, had already collected a few oysters
Normally I don’t really mind getting my feet wet and muddy, but on this occasion, the sun told me it wouldn’t be long before it got dark and it was time for us to go home. I decided not to get into the water.
Instead, I did what all city dwellers do when they are struck by the sublime matter-of-courseness of nature, which is always present, but at the same time absent. I squatted down, assuming the caveman position, so as to really allow myself to take in the scenery.
The air smelled salty. In the distance, sheep were moving towards me, forming a greyish white blob. Schouwen-Duiveland’s silhouette on the other side of the lake was shadowy, with the weeping branches of willows swaying in the wind. The loud chatter and screeching of birds came to me across the glass-like body of water. The sun was increasingly getting extinguished by the lake.
Although my calves were cramping up and my ankles were sinking lower all the time, I stayed in my crouch position and kept pondering. It was great. I did not get up until our dinner had been collected. We climbed the dyke and made our way to the road.
By now it was dark. The fields were empty and the air was fresh. We walked back to our car, telling jokes, still smelling the salt in our noses. We were languorous and I felt warm inside, filled with emptiness.
Suddenly, an eternal light descended on us – Lux Aeterna. The sky was bright blue and the fields were full of the yellowest wheat on earth. Heaven presented us with singing which occasionally got a little dissonant, albeit never unpleasant. A large, golden, two-headed eagle appeared and spat angry fire at us. It had lost a crown, and seemed to be very upset about it, judging from the desperate way in which it clung to its orb and sceptre.
“Is this the way?” I asked the eagle. It screeched in Slavic tongues, spat its fire all over the place, torched the field of wheat, and then turned its gaze onto me. I burned to a cinder.
Once again, I found myself surrounded by darkness, silence, fresh air and empty fields. I still felt the taste of salt in my nose. I still felt languorous, as well, although my languor now came with a hint of melancholia. I thought of my parents, and of the two-headed, fire-spitting eagle that had prompted them to flee. I thought of how fortunate and privileged I was. I thought to myself that not everyone is lucky enough to saunter on along the sea on a dyke in Herkingen.