Oost Vlaanderen was the last leg of the Walk. Walking in West-Flanders was touching ancestral ground as I am born in Oostende, Brabant was admiring the beauty of the area I live in now and East-Flanders felt like home, the place where lots of my family and friends live.
Under the blue sky in a brisk winter morning four supporters started the Walk in Hemiksem, south of Antwerp. I felt in good spirits. We crossed the Schelde with the ferry. Taking a boat to cross a river is always something special, something out of the daily routine. The delight of being rocked on the water, even for that short time, the splendor of the light on the surface, the winds in your hair: it’s all sheer enjoyment and exactly the opposite of taking your car and driving somewhere. Once crossed and suddenly in nature we saw the city we left from the other side. Like in a complete different world, we walked through he woods and followed the river. Rivers are magical! Everybody likes to walk or even live along the riverside, gazing over the ever changing play of light and colors.
Next day my beloved Paul walked with me and we had a walking day reminding us of the many long walks we used to take together. Since he broke his hip (in a tornado that virtually destroyed our just rebuilt house 6 years ago) his leg is still hurting off and on. And things didn’t get better when he had a stroke last year and had a paralyzed arm and leg. Although he recovered quickly and almost totally, walking still is sometimes painful or difficult. Not only do I miss the long walks together, we used to have our long talks as well during those days. It was a happy surprise for both of us that for some reason he finished the whole trajectory with me.
We arrived at the beautiful straw bale house of my oldest friend, in all meanings of the word: Kristie became 80 last month and I know her since our sons were 5 years old and were in the same Kindergarten class. Our babies are 40 now…
Here is mine: a proud and caring family father.
Kristie’s son, Arne walked with me the next day as did two friends. We talked about live and the transformation that is taking place all around us while keeping ourselves warm with a rather quick pace in the North Eastern wind and freezing temperatures. Eighteen kilometers later, we found a cafe and indulged in coffee with whipped cream and a little extra!