Autumn in the Netherlands

I just came back from a family walk in the Dutch forest. It is always such a pleasure to feel the fresh October wind on your face while you admire the vibrant colors of a very domesticated landscape. 

This ecosystem has been undoubtedly groomed into place by a communist neat freak government, one that refuses to permit even the slightest glimpse of fantasy or the hint of personalized touch. It shall all be flat and green, with here and there some forests!

Having said that, I love Dutch nature. I adore its calmness, I adore the absence of surprise from any wilderness – as they themselves are nonexistent. All eradicated.

Therefore, I can peacefully immerse the hypocritical environmentally friendly side of me in the heart of the Batavian woods. I can let my thoughts go, I can pretentiously intellectualize my connection with nature.

Understanding nature 

Ralph Aldo Emerson (1803-1882), the first American philosopher, sentimentally claimed that our fascination for nature comes from it being a mirror effect of our own divinity.

I know what you are thinking: Americans only had their first philosopher in the XIXth century?! I know… And while I personally consider him the first, some might even only consider Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) as the first of the first. 

Anyways… moving on from one European’s stupefaction regarding the intelligentsia of the New World… Even for us atheists, there is a kind of sacred pleasure in nature.

The message I took from Emerson’s words is that the emotion created by spectacular scenery is the evocation of something beyond us. We are establishing a link of communication: either the beyond is communicating with us (that’s how you will see it if you are religious) or we are communicating with it. Either way, when we are confronted with nature, with the terrifying splendour of endlessness, we are reminded of our uniqueness. It gives us the power to live – perhaps an explanation to life; definitely a glimpse of the phenomenal.

In other words, we all have a Greta Thunberg in us.  

The child in us

I love observing children and their sincere fascination for nature; for the big, the small, the pretty and the ugly. They can patiently stare down a snail gliding down the asphalt path; they are able to slip into their wild side in front of rocks – because deep down every kid is Icelandic and believes elves live in magical rock caves.

I remember being 3 years old in Bahrain and wanting to caress a red ant. Who would want to cuddle that? A 3-year-old me, that’s who. I still remember the excruciating pain and the stupefaction: I wanted to be nice, why it wasn’t nice back to me? Why did it bite me instead?! (Some machos would say that ants are just like women … #metoo)   

Instinctively, as youngsters, we want to communicate with nature. And when I watch my cat, undoubtedly it wants to communicate back. At least, when I hear him miau hysterically, I know exactly what he’s trying to convey to me: “Feed me, bitch! Nooooooooooow!” I always execute his demands promptly, but I can’t help myself from thinking that he really could be more polite about it. 

Nature gives us the most exquisite feeling: it gives us the elements to explain life, whether you are a scientific or a religious devotee. It is a beautiful allegory of what life is all about: there is a time to plant seeds and there is a time to harvest the rewards of your hard work. But you can’t hurry the cycle of mother nature.

The Dutch

And that is what I like about the Dutch culture: they have a sincere affinity for nature and the wonders that it brings, such as the sun. Especially the sun. 

During spring and summer, you can see them following the sun like lemurs: their eyes pop out and they rear up unsteadily on their feet to position themselves exactly where a thin ray of light falls. They move together as a hypnotized pack; shuffling millimeter by millimeter to anxiously follow every minute shift of the ray’s sunlit warmth over the ground, opening their arms wide as if they were saying: take me.  

Yeah, when the sun is out – that’s about the only time you can witness the Dutch being over dramatic.

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