Category: Nature and universe
An hour or so ago they sent out a code orange. This warning means that the weather will become very severe and we should all stay indoors where it is supposedly safe. At first I didn't believe them, what do they know? The weather outside seemed just fine to me. Well, an hour later and the deluge is here with lots and lots of lightning bolts striking nearby. Boom! That was sure close. Almost too worrisome seeing such a gush of water being spilled out from the darkened sky. The backyard and the streets are flooding over. Yipes! Mother nature can be unpredictable and needs to be respected and/or worshiped at all times. Either that or else.
This is what I saw through the windshield when I got into my car to head off to an early morning round of golf.
I was so struck by the beauty of the colors and the way the sunshine danced across the thin layer of ice that I had to take a picture of it.
One could almost say that it's a true masterpiece of art and sell the painting for millions of dollars.
However, we all know that the beauty of nature is priceless and no amount of money can ever do it justice. Just appreciate the fleeting moment while we can.
During my evening walk with the dog, I was struck by how unusually beautiful and serene the moon appeared in the freezing cold winter night sky. I attempted to capture the scene by snapping a picture using my smartphone, but this fuzzy picture is all that I could manage. Use some extra imagination, look beyond the graininess, and you can sense the timeless moment.
I gazed up into the sky. To my utter amazement, I witnessed the formation of an intricate pattern of criss-crosses all over the place. What struck me immediately was the realization that this was nothing more than a huge net created by a very powerful being. The one and only purpose was to completely capture the world, consume it in one gulp, including me. I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I would not be able to escape the inevitable. Just waiting to happen, time ticking away, no doubts about it. I accepted my fate with open arms and a smile, continuing on my merry little way.
While I slept last night it snowed like mad, just as they had predicted. When I awoke I could sense the extra weight pushing down ever so slightly on the roof of the house.
The creak of winter and an occasional layer of snow breaking off and sliding past the trees.
I looked out the window. As far as I could see in every direction the world was covered by a blanket of white. The usual morning sounds were buffered by the softness of winter, no sounds at all, different muffled sounds.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that today it is Luca's sixth birthday, which is forty-two in dog years. Middle-aged but still spunky and energetic.
Thea and I went into town today to buy me a new suit for work. Afterwards, we had coffee and apple pie at Cafe Central, and then we went to the local pet store to buy Luca a giant bone with juicy pieces of meat hanging off of it.
Luca was the happiest dog in the world and has been licking and chewing it for more than two hours. Too bad she got sick and threw it all up afterwards.
The road is flat and straight. Along the right side there is an endless row of trees extending to the horizon and beyond, as far as I can see. The tree trunks form parallel cylinders equally spaced in time. Nearly so that is. Every ten seconds or thereabouts there is a slight glitch in the perfect harmony of the universe. If I could predict this moment in time, I could veer my car to the right at the exact second. Just squeeze through like an arrow. Unless I started to skid sideways, I'd have to take that into consideration as well. Now that I think of it, I'd have to jerk the steering wheel sideways not at the exact second but a millisecond or two or maybe three before that exact second. According to the laws of nature, the car would contine travelling a finite extra distance before it reacted to my hands, gripped so firmly. A single drop of sweat would be sliding down my forehead and I would be able to feel it. Like an elastic cord connecting my mind to the steering wheel and then to the two trees between which I was meant to travel. That's when it would happen, in my mind, in the parallel world which never was, of which I'm not meant to be a part. Maybe next time, and then I will have to explain it slightly differently.
The so-called real world is infinitely chaotic. Yet we are driven by a never-ending struggle to try and discover some facsimile of structure. No matter how fleeting and nebulous it first appears, and then it disappears in a blink of the eye.
There it is over there. No I guess not, where did it go? Over there again ...
Rather than accept the chaotic nature that surrounds us, there is some inner instinct that refuses to let us be consumed by it. Stay alive or end up dying.
It's that will to survive which all living things share that drives us on and on and on. We the many human beings that wander aimlessly across the earth are lucky because we are conscious of this dichotomy.
Try and understand things. Things that were never intended to be understood in the first place. Get confused for a second and then understand them again.
We can understand or at least we can think that we understand, which seem different but are exactly the same thing.
This afternoon I look out of my upstairs window, and I am confronted by a mysterious formation of clouds with purple lining dashed against a dark blue sky.
One's first impression might be that this is an ominous foreboding of a cruel winter to come, as this has been predicted in the papers during the last week. Supposedly this time around the winter will be a severely cold and challenging climate.
I prefer to remain positive and consider this awesome window view as a friendly farewell from nature. Let's acknowledge her kind gesture of thanks, there she is urging us to look forward to the return of next years sunny and warm climate.
Just hang in there is all.
There's not a single cloud in the sky and it is perfectly blue. Nor is there a single contrail to be seen anywhere. This is indeed a very rare sight to experience, when the sky is normally criss-crossed by hundreds of fresh and fading airline streaks of vaporized air.
The sky seems so peaceful, but scary at the same time, making you feel religious just in case something foreboding is about to occur.
Viewing such tranquility, it is hard to imagine that no more than a couple thousand kilometers to the west there are violent eruptions spewing millions of tons of ash and rock into the sky. Is it ready to blow up?
The previous time the same volcano was so active almost two hundred years ago, it lasted more than a year. So we should prepare ourselves for a long haul I'm afraid. Just hope that none of that ash falls down here.
As we grow older we acquire certain insights into the way we are and our true relationship with the world which surrounds us.
In some ways this can be quite confrontational. Rather than fighting the truth it is more worthwhile to let it flow over you, like a series of waves splashing on the beach.
In other ways this realization can energize and give one a more powerful push in newer and more exciting directions.
While relaxing on the rubber raft a hundred or so feet from the beach, I can still hear those waves splashing in soothing, musical regularity. A distant drumming sound coming closer and closer.
I will open my eyes later when the time is ready.
Take for example the days we walk along the waterway where a bunch of fishers have been spending the day.
Luca will sniff out the residue and if she's lucky she'll spot some dead fish which has been gutted and whose bones and scales have been left their in the sun to rot away.
Before I notice and can do anything about it, there she is rolling around upside down on top of the dead fish rubbing her back into it with much delight and wiggling.
The problem is that even though I wash her down when we get back home, the house stinks like a dead fish for a couple days.
They claim that this is normal dog behavior, a kind of instinct or throwback from the early days of wild dogs before they were domesticated. In order to survive, they would need to stalk and kill prey. In order to hide their own scent, they would roll around in many disgusting substances so that they could approach their prey undetected.
This sound kind of silly and I'm not so sure I believe it.
Why Dogs Love to Roll in Smelly Stuff
Just when I was ready to hop in the car, Sabien came downstairs with a sneaky smile on her face and asked:
"What's it like to take Luca on a walk now when in the beginning you really didn't want to have a dog in the house?"
A couple hours later, I returned home with my pants and coat splattered with mud, and I took Luca back to spray her down with the hose.
Luca just loves it when we take her to the Reeuwijkse Plassen and she never seems to tire of fetching the yellow tennis ball no matter how far we throw it into the distance, again and again and again.
For the avid golfer, this subtle change of nature can become a bit of a disaster. There are so many leaves lying on the ground, that it is very easy to lose a golf ball here and there.
Even the finest drive hit smack down the middle of the fairway runs the risk of rolling and stopping right under a large brownish leave that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Good-bye golf ball, no hope ever finding you again unless I just happen to peak under the right leave, one chance in a thousand maybe even a million, it's hard to say exactly.
Sometimes one of those green-keepers comes along with his giant leaf blower which slightly alleviates this aggravation, but only as long as you keep the ball on the fairway.
The slightest fade or draw causes the ball to bounce and disappear into one of those massive piles of leaves, half a foot deep and spanning tens of meters of a crumpled brown expanse.
Also the fall means that the sun is lower on the horizon, and more than one longish par four poses quite a challenge pointing you directly into the sunlight. You hit the ball just fine, or so it felt like it, but where did the ball land exactly? Much to my surprise there it is right next to the flag, buried in the bunker, over there behind a tree, or never to be found again.
The game of golf remains a true and honorable challenge despite the different ways that nature tries to make life more difficult.
See also Autumn Rules for an entertaining account about bazillions of leaves.
To the human eye this path is about two meters wide, just wide enough for two bikes to pass each other, but for the average slug it's more likely something nearer to two football fields long.
Nature calls and the many slugs leave the comforts of the tall grass in pursuit of something better. What this might be no one is sure.
Unfortunately, many do not survive this noble adventure, their meager lives smashed in an instant underneath the massive tires of the randomly passing bicyclists.
This slug makes it across without any problems, that slug barely misses the giant tire and manages to slip by the last few centimeters, and fate calls the shots as yet another slug gets splattered before it can even perceive what life might be like on the other side.
Like dead soldiers strewn across a disheartening battlefield, the squashed slugs are scattered as far as the eye can see.
What unearthly battle could create so many innocent victims?
Slowly but surely it is getting darker, the moment I wake up and have to cycle to town, time to think differently, moving through the darkness as it approaches and envelops me, and then what? We will have to see.
As it turns out, the Magellanic Clouds are first-time visitors.
I never could have expected that at all. For more than hundreds of years, it has been accepted as common knowledge that these wonderful celestial bodies were nothing more than natural extensions of the home galaxy in which we live.
Almost human thoughts that we could nearly grasp here and now.
Beliefs can be easily shattered by the endless stream of sterile measurements and calculations of science, in its pursuit of acquiring more accurate knowledge of the universe and thereby risking that we slowly but surely dehumanize mother nature.
I am sitting in the train, and I'm not so keen that it is raining pretty hard outside. In about ten minutes or so I'll be arriving at my final destination Station Gouda. Meaning that if the precipitous climate does not change shortly, I will have to cycle home in the pouring down rain. Unprotected by my rain gear which I unknowingly left at home figuring that the really great summer weather we had been having up to now would not change in the near future. Little did I know at the time that the world climate is becoming more and more unpredictable these days. "Dames en heren, Station Gouda..."
Yesterday this giant gorilla escaped from his cage at the local zoo, running around on a rampage and injuring a couple innocent bystanders before being drugged and carried away.
Very reflective of human nature in that each and every one of us has a hidden gorilla inside of us trying to escape. We try to subdue this inner gorilla but it does not always work. When he escapes there is no more holding back, so beware not only for yourself but for those around you as well.
There I was walking with my youngest son Maarten, and it was a slightly cloudy day with the wind hissing through the many leaves in the trees surrounding us right and left along the path we were pursuing together.
Interesting sound, though it didn't quite sound like what one would expect wind through trees should sound like.
"Suppose you are sleeping," I asked him, "and you suddenly wake up in the dark not knowing where you are?"
"You wake up and hear this sound," and I pointed to the many leaves in the trees hissing and swaying, "would you know what kind of sound it was?"
"Could be a flock of locusts, or a bunch of waves crashing down on the beach, or clouds of dust scraping the dry asphalt, or anything else for that matter."
After less than a split second of rumination, Maarten turned to me and said innocently, "sounds like just a bunch of leaves to me..."
I realized then and there that it would take several more years before my son would mature enough to appreciate the nonsense of philosophy that distracts my mind from the messed up reality on a daily basis.
This April has turned out to be the driest month ever in recorded history in Holland. A number of fires have spontaneously risen in various places which are exceptionally arid, and folks are becoming worried. So much for global warming and all of the unpredictable consequences which may or may not happen.
I stood outside and everything was nice. Nice blue sky above, nice slight breeze cooling me off, nice silence so unobtrusive, nice slightly damp feeling from the memories of morning, nice whitish clouds drifting from west to east, seagulls arriving and a bunch of cars trying to find a parking place, and don't forget that there are those leather back turtles swimming from who knows where to the Galapagos Islands, oblivious of this situation but that is for the best. Human thought versus nature's way of thinking and/or accepting. Standing outside is pretty darn good, as long as I do not get too involved with the intricacies of what is supposed to happen, or not. It will happen or it will not happen.
The sun was expanding itself into a huge orange ball on the horizon. The lower it descended the larger and brighter it became. I could have stared at this wonderful scene for hours on end because it was so impressive. However, not wanting to become blind by staring too long at the beauty before me, I decided to look the other way. That is when just in time this fantastic orb descended half-way and in no time became nothing. Disappearing below, and then what?