barefoot on Belgian soil


The park is magical. As are all the public, cultivated spaces here: I’m given the sense of a holodeck – programmed to appear wild but the evidence of human design remains.

06 lamppost.jpg
Doesn’t that remind you of the lamppost on the other side of the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe? (I have refrained from watching the movie, so this is my imaginary correspondence from a reading many years ago.)
We picnicked and talked about the seasons. Liesbet looked at me with incredulity when I said it is a fairly recent phenomena for me to actually consciously register the duration of seasons. (She thinks I’m a treehugger!) I mean, yea, of course I always knew the seasons change, but to have that deep embodied awareness that one season follows the next . . .

and each lasts about so long . . .

Yea, that’s a perceptual kind of awareness I’ve been growing only since the last five years or so. I’m always pleased when spring arrives, but I never trusted the end of summer. Fall, for nearly all my life, seemed to hurtle into winter. When autumn started slowing down – meaning, when I realized there would be some months of fall between the first cold night and the onslaught of snow – is when the reality of the seasons as a cycle dawned.
I know. How is it possible to have been so clueless for so long?
I was raised among people who weren’t noticing those things. Or, if they were, it was a private matter, not discussed. Education was abstracted, even hands-on activities. (Not that I recall very many – which isn’t saying so much, as I don’t remember much of the first half of my life…) Reading Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home, sheds a certain kind of strange light on my own childhood. I realize that there was a singular focus that bounded most of my family’s doings… no wonder I still struggle to spread perceptual awareness as broadly as necessary, and so often get lost in the resulting complexity!
03 shoes.jpg
Anyway, we took off our shoes and spread our toes in the cool grass, comparing seasons in Egypt, Belgium, and various climes in the U.S. 001 synchrony.jpg There is no twilight in Egypt, for instance, only a day/night transition lasting less than half-an-hour. You feel the seasons there by the temperature. Here in Belgium, as in the US, I tend to smell the season first. There is also a quality of air – probably a function of humidity? – but it seems secondary to me, whereas in Egypt (so says Mahmoud) the feel of the air comes before the nose detects a difference.
There are American sayings about the seasons….I have a vague recollection…”April showers bring May flowers” is the only one that comes to mind. Appropriate! In Dutch there is a saying about the moodiness of the weather, apparently Arabic has one as well, but for a different month… correspondence, but not an exact alignment: synchronicity is variable, huh? 🙂

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