Tuesday 6 July 2021

A.L. Snijders: 'Standplaats'


Place to stand


The birds only come if there’s food for them. If I’d forgotten to put food out, I didn’t see birds any more, I felt abandoned. I wanted to punish them, they were responsible for my loneliness. I couldn’t punish them, they weren’t there anymore. I always felt they came for my sake, out of gratitude because I had hung up food for them.

My closest neighbour 800 metres further up said: You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. I asked: What’s that got to do with it? The neighbour answered: I don’t know, but I’m certain that the horse and the birds know all right. As a result of this answer, the neighbour and I have fallen out with each other for some time. Fortunately, we don’t notice this all that much, 800 metres is enough if you’re watchful enough.

After a few seasons I changed my opinion without noticing it. If you live alone and don’t have a TV and only other people at the supermarket, the form of opinion is of a different order, in my opinion. I hung op food for the birds again and to my delight saw that the birds returned in large numbers. And something happened that I had never noticed before, the birds did not see me if I stood quite still. If I stood with my head absolutely still and thirty centimetres from the fat ball in a net that I’d hung up, they came to eat from it and did not recognise me as a human being. I had had become a statue, they could use my head as a place to stand. I was enthusiastic, but I couldn’t tell my neighbour that, our quarrel had become a status quo. In addition, I yesterday decided to mingle with other people. I cycled to a pub in a wood I normally never came to. It is an area where somewhat chic people live. The weather was fine, sunny, cold. Although the owner had placed a well-lit brazier of good, dry wood out on the terrace, everyone went inside and sat there. I had been a long time since I had mixed at ease with other people. When I sat aside, I regretted deciding to do this, there were too many with dogs there. I don’t like strange dogs. Next to me sat two affluent ladies who had their recent travels as their topic of conversation. They had been in Boston, in humanist circles, had attended gatherings of high human calibre. They had a dog with them that repeatedly jumped up everywhere. They then shouted ‘down’ in English at it. I knew what that meant, but saw that the dog did not understand their language.

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