Postcards from Belgium

Getting off the boat in Duinkerken-France often has anticipation in it. What am I going to see? Has it changed? Will I still feel at home? Is Belgium still there where I left it the last time I visited?
I cross the France/Belgium border and can truly see that Belgium is still Belgium. Towards the coast big skies with dotted houses in the landscape.
Between hound and wolf, the hour before the sun goes under, the houses are bading in red, angry white clouds above them. Hovering. Rain to come.
On my way to my sister’s house for the night, before officially starting my tour of April 2012.
In the morning, fog veils trees and fields. A silent world. On the outskirts of my home town of Kortrijk, the town I grew up in.
The next morning the fog has gone, stormy brisk weather ahead. On the little farming roads in Bellegem.
How weather can influence our moods. It looks so much more vibrant when the fog clears. The world starts making sounds again.
Belgium like it is. Red roofs, parks, trees starting to bloom. I see my town with the eyes of an accidental tourist. Not so accidental though.
The Beguinage of Kortrijk is one of my favorite spots to visit when I go home. There, I’ve said it: “Home”. But not really any longer home.
I know of little spots that lots of locals have no clue about. An alley here, a little chapel there, for all to see, if we look. I’m divided. Two persons. One that feels right at home in England, and a person that looks with eyes of a stranger to things lifelong familiar. I miss my dad.
Kortrijk was the town where in 1302 the French King got beat up by flemish noble men and footfolk. The Battle of the Gilden Spurs.
It seems that one knight was left behind, still riding his horse fiercely and bold.
In Marke, on the other side of town, the driveway to the castle still holds the beautiful view. At the end a farm, behind the farm the river Lys.
It’s my turf. I know it all. How the river slowly searches it’s way to France. Where once flax made you rich. The river was used to work with the flax, I still remember that rotten egg smell.
Tilting my camera I see the church spire of Bissegem.
The little towns at the edge of Kortrijk all have their own intimate stories in my mind. Stories long gone now, people gone, I am glad that the core of things stays the same. Lots of change already, I wonder what my dad would think about the new town. It has been ten years, ten years of longing to have one last chat with him.
Ten years where new rulers changed and scaped the city, my old world is vanishing bit by bit.
Other things stay the same. The small chapel on the Morinnestreet, the farmer plowing his field.
Me on my way to my grandmother’s house.
With the Astrid Boulevard in front of it. How many hours did we spend here… Playing in the park, cowboy and indian around the little pond called Het Walleke.
Floating with my iron doll pram on the surface of the water, being a general on a lion back… Memeetje coming to find us for supper and being crossed once more because she hated it to see us on those lions.
Her house number was 127. It still is. A new family now lives in it, not knowing any of the stories I have. Here too smells I can bring up in my memory, odd. One never forgets the smells from childhood. I wonder if the door will open and if Memeetje will wave at me. The little iron fence is gone now, a new urban garden has been put in.
I need to silence the voice inside that tells me to ring the bell… Maybe on my next visit. I would give anything to go in one more time… To see if Memeetje would have liked what they did to the house she built a long time ago. I need to jump back into the present.
Into my new life… Cinderella no longer has the pumpkin… She’s a princess now! Fairy tales do come true. Right, on with life!