Man Leben – back to Limburg


Treibend auf die Wellen kann man leben –

Flooting on the waves one can live

You continue with your return to Limburg:

“My godfather had died. The farm in South Limburg urgently needed help. I was ready for a change; my “Jaguar – Saab years” were finally over. At the age of 48 years I became a farmer for a year and a half.

My godfather and godmother could not have had children. I have always felt it, but it was told over adult. During the war until the end of my primary school, they took care for me. I was more than welcome; living with them I had the most beautiful time of my life. Now my godfather suddenly died and the farm wished to resume the rhythm of spring.

The funeral of my godfather went according to use in Limburg. A heavy bell let the village know the sad news that there was a dead,  a mass, walking to the cemetery, a meal with the usual good food. The legacy had not yet to be divided. On her own my godmother had to take for the farm, the cows, the fields, the vegetable garden and orchard. The transition to work on the farm was on my way. Again I moved to South Limburg.

I settled myself to the rhythm of the day, month, season and year on the farm. I could remember much from the past, but a lot had changed. My godmother still followed all the rituals of the Catholic Church, but the secularization was also advancing in Limburg. The farm used to be almost fully self-sufficient. The surplus of the farm was sold and part of the money was used to purchase tools and for maintenance, another part was set aside for savings, and the last part went to church and help for others. The mechanization had already begun – there was a tractor and a number of machines were available. But a further increase in scale was needed in a few years: the choices were not easy and the necessary investments would be considerable. Was the farm large enough to be taken over by family or heirs? My godfather and godmother had been thinking about this question for several years; soon a decision had to be taken. Now she had to make this decision on her own. My godmother noticed that for me a change was more than welcome that year. After a few weeks my godmother and I agreed that I would continue at least until the farm was ready for the next winter.

[1]

For her, this was not an easy time: loss of her husband, help from me – an inexperienced farmer, how to continue with the farm and the changes in everyday life. In Limburg the secularization started and the television showed all the changes of the world in the kitchen. She fulfilled her duties for her late husband and I went along to each mass. This rhythm and the rhythm of the farm gave form to my life again.

[2]

In the autumn – just after the 6 months mass for my godfather – my aunt said that my help on the farm was welcome, but I was not a farmer; I did not belong on a farm. I belonged somewhere else, just as at the age of 12 I belonged somewhere else. On that evening we decided to live another season on the farm and within that year take for the transfer of the farm.

A college friend visited me for a weekend at that time. We have always kept in touch. Now he was a successful architect. Together, we considered the possibilities for a holiday farm. The location was good, the buildings were in a good condition and they offered sufficient opportunities. In consultation with my godmother we developed the plans further during winter and spring. At the end of spring my godmother – after consultation with the family – bid the farm and land for sale. In summer she bought herself a nice apartment in the village. We finished the summer season on the farm. The cows were taken over by villagers and the land was leased. So, we finished our farmers’  rhythm.

In that year we also talked about my future plans. I would save myself: my godmother believed me, but in her opinion this was not my destination on earth. We also discussed the wish of my aunt. She fully understood the wish of my aunt to honour my family with the traditional remembrance of the dead according to the Jewish tradition. My inability to do this, my godmother did not well understand. One may take the position of “no one’s boss, nobody’s servant”, but there existed a natural order with a God who created heaven and earth; He had to be honoured. For my godmother her faith and her way of life has always been clear: one knew what to do – like it or not – you had to do it. Gently she proposed a pilgrimage to me; a pilgrimage in the autumn to Dachau. That would be a preparation for honouring my family.

Looking back on my life in Limburg and the hike/pilgrimage, I remember a text that I have once read: “Disease and medicine help each other. The medicine is the universe. Who are you?”. [3]

At the end of the summer of 1983, I packed my backpack with two sets of clothes, a bivouac sack and a small stove. I said goodbye to my godmother and to the village and I hit the road”, you say.

The next post is about your trek to Ronchamp.

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Examples of farms in Zuid Limburg. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Houtemstgerlach.jpg

[2] Example of landscape in Zuid Limburg: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationaal_Landschap_Zuid-Limburg

[3] Free rendering of Case 87 from the Hekiganroku. See also: Yamada Kôun Roshi, Hekiganroku, Die Niederschrift vom blauen Fels – Band 2. München: Kösel-Verlag, 2002 p. 321.

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