As I am writing this, I’m sitting in a bus. We’re driving next to a river called the Ijssel and on the other side of the river is the city Kampen. A flock of geese are flying over the bus, probably deciding it has become too cold in The Netherlands, and it’s time to head south. It’s the end of October and winter is slowly creeping up on us. As I look out of the window, I see a blanket of mist settling in a field of cows.
My wife is pointing outside, telling me about a field of grass that’s transformed into an ice-skating range every winter. “They just fill that field with water and it freezes overnight.” She tells me.
The bus rocks to and fro, hither and thither, almost to a rhythmic pattern. Then the bus stops, another passenger enters, buys a ticket and passes me on his way to one of the empty seats in the back. The bus takes off again, and over the intercom we hear: “Next stop,” and then whatever name that stop has.
As we’re crossing a bridge and I gaze out the window, I see the magnificent powerlines over us. I look through the other window and see the powerlines stretching from horizon to horizon. The strange thing about Holland is that the horizon really is the horizon, because it’s so flat here, we can look far and wide.
The bus stops again, more passengers enter, and the bus takes off. As we’re driving, I see another bus coming from the opposite direction, right before it passes both bus chauffeurs wave at each other, just like motorcyclists do.
The small backroads we were taking have led us to a national road, which is basically a highway, only smaller. On both sides of the road there are trees with leaves in a multitude of colors. Then the tree line gradually becomes smaller until there are none.
Then my wife points outside again: “Look, it’s my old house.” She says. Indeed it is, she lived there when I met her. A flood of memories come over me, good memories, great ones even. My musings end when we arrive at the bus station where we’re supposed to wait for ten minutes. A number of new passengers enter the bus. “Are we supposed to get out here?” I ask my wife. “No, this is Emmeloord.” She tells me.
Emmeloord is a village, and it shows. It looks dull and boring. Here and there are some people walking around, going about their daily business. I could understand why people would choose to live here, because housing would be cheaper than in Zwolle. But there are much fewer job opportunities. The past four jobs I’ve had were ten minutes from my home by bike.
Ten minutes went by fast, a new bus chauffeur takes over the shift from his colleague and soon after, the bus takes off. He makes a quick U-turn and then we’re on our way. By this time, my legs and butt are hurting from sitting the whole time, and I just can’t wait until we finally arrive.
The bus takes on two more passengers at another stop, a mother and her little daughter. The sounds of the motor, the conversation of an elderly couple to the left of me, the blowing wind, the constant squeaking of something that sounds like Styrofoam being held against vibrating glass and the high pitch voice of a little girl who hasn’t yet learned how to whisper all seemed to blend into one.
It didn’t take long until we were back on the backroads, passing Tollebeek on the right. Behind the trees to the left there’s a small canal, and behind that some empty fields. Whatever grew on those fields has already been harvested. Here and there are some farm houses, but we mostly pass empty dirt fields.
The little girl who has not yet learned how to whisper tells her mother she owned a helicopter when she was little, a very believable story which made my wife laugh. Haven’t we all owned helicopters when we were little?
I look outside, we’ve arrived at our destination. How did that trip from Emmeloord to Urk go by so fast?