a snail burial

yesterday I attended a snail burial
he (or she, let’s say he) had a good life
he grew up in Sweden
from French ancestors
brought in by monks in the 12th century
so they could eat something tasty on their fasting days
they didn’t consider them meat

he spent a week in a gallery
in the small town where he was born
performing together with 107 other snails

from there he travelled on a train up north
to join me and 14 of his companions
researching the pioneer life in the Swedish forest

he came back with me to Amsterdam
they were only four by then,
i left 10 in the woods and lost 1
somewhere somehow

i had planned to return them to where their grandparent’s grandparent’s grandparent’s grandparent’s were born, in the North of France, drop them off on my long walk from Amsterdam to the Nomadic Village 2013 in the south of France but it was too complicated to take them

so they spent time in Amsterdam and in Speuld, in the countryside
sleeping for months in winter
but since i wasn’t there most of the time and somebody else was taking care of them
and not planning to settle down somewhere, where they would enjoy themselves
it was time to let them go

they came with me on the train again
they saw Berlin, München, Slovenia
they became part of the Nomadic Village
and have been part of my life, teaching me about slowness and grace

he had a quick death
he didn’t suffer
he was crushed under the Captain’s foot
and while I sat on the church wall next to the Nomadic Village shortly after, seeing the first star appear and the clouds closing in on the mountains, feeling sad
the church bells started ringing, 21.10, an odd moment for church bells

maybe the snail already knew
maybe he was the one that never joined the others in their love making
when I would let them wander during the day

and no, he didn’t have a name

he was just a snail


a memory of a scent

in the early hours after a long sunny day
one of many
when the earth had turned so dry again
that everybody had been cutting the grass in their gardens and fields
i sat on the church wall in front of my blue tent
in a long black coat
with the word “petrichor” embroidered in its pocket
the smell of the earth after the rain


to bake silence you have to burn your words

today i did a short radio interview
i expected questions were going to be asked
but they weren’t

i had two minutes to say something


so i fiddled with my bag
smoked a cigarette
opened my mouth many times
but only to breath
and out

two minutes can be long

how can you be interviewed without any questions being asked?
only by not giving answers

and i didn’t

i talked
i talked like i walked
with detours, forgetting things, finding things

getting lost

and now i am trying to find my way back
i return in my words, what was it i said?
i talked about suits and suitcases
about stories and meetings
about pockets containing memories
about a long journey, a slow one

and the interviewer
or let’s say the man who pushed the recording button
was satisfied
because he hadn’t heard the story before

the story of my life
whereas I had thought about death in the morning
inbetween our first and third breakfast
and i burned my bread in the oven
because i talked too much

i won’t make that mistake again



one of those days
too many things to do
time is flying

i didn’t go on any long walks
i didn’t do a lot of writing
i did only do a little bit of collecting and learning about edible wild plants
i didn’t work on my 3 piece walking suit
i didn’t decide on what i want to present this friday yet
i didn’t embroider any memories in the pockets of the clothes i dragged all the way from barcelona through europe in an impossible suitcase

but i baked bread every morning
and i observed my 4 snails being slow
i wore my suit
i made new friends
i listened to amazing musicians from around the world playing life music just around the corner for three days in a row
i ate a 3 course breakfast, afternoon cakes decorated with starts and happy skulls, amazing dinners prepared by the Nomads every day
i heard a replica of the oldest instrument in the world (50.000 years at least) being played
i was given cave bear bones
i danced on my golden shoes
and i had beautiful talks with more people than i could ever have wished for

sometimes we say we don’t have time
but we do
it is there and we move around in it
you just have to find it, take it, get lost in it

(photo: cerkno divje babne cave wall, the oldest known archaeological site in Slovenia, layeres and layers of compressed time)


the baker's dress

In the Nomadic Village you can be what you want to be. I am the village baker.
Last year, when I walked for 96 days to reach the Nomadic Village in Austria in one of my suits, I asked the Nomads beforehand to all bring me a clothing item I could wear during the 14 days we spent together. Anything. Instead of wearing my walking suit I wanted to be a collection of the Nomads' tastes.

The mother of one of the Nomads gave her a dress for me to borrow. A red woolen dress she had once bought in New York when she was celebrating her wedding anniversary there with her husband. I decided to wear the dress in the early mornings when it was chilly and I was baking bread. In style. White flour on a red dress. It seemed to make sense.

She gave me the dress to keep and this year I brought it to the Village again. And again I wear it in the mornings.

Today I baked a muesli bread and a fig-kardamom-pine nut bread in the morning. In the evening there was a slightly salty garlic-rosemary bread with the dinner. Tomorrow there might be cornbread. Yellow on red. Supported by golden shoes of course.




First full day in the Village. We have noisy neighbours but I couldn’t have wished myself better ones. In Barcelona I missed the Dutch music scene and when I arrived here I didn’t get too excited when I heard about the Jazz Festival happening in the coming days literally around the corner from our base. Cerkno is a small village, 2.000 inhabitants, I never heard of it. It is not too far from the capital Ljubljana and it is hidden in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is rainy and chilly but apparently we are lucky. In one of the recent years it snowed during the festival. And rain also means we can catch a lot of water and use it.

When soundchecks started I checked the program. My mouth fell open. Aki Takase, Marc Ribot, Paal Nilssen Love, Ken Vandermark and “our own” The Ex. As special guest in Cerkno we had free entrance for the full three days. Somebody came over to give us all an invisible black light stamp.

Official opening of the Village in the afternoon, full suit and tie. Golden shoes. Same for the festival. Going somewhere in my suit counts as work. I work a lot and with a lot of pleasure.

Earlier today one of our hosts from the Cmak Cultural Center had asked me what I was going to work on here. I didn’t know what to say. I was lost again. In my ideas, thoughts, starting points. I remembered the quote I had started my proposal for the Nomadic Village with. “The best planning is no planning.” Masanobu Fukuoka in The One Straw Revolution. Philosopher and natural farmer. The man who became known for the so called “do-nothing farming” (which is the opposite of being a lazy farmer but asks for a lot of attention in different ways). A permaculture hero who never aspired being called like that. The man who re-introduced the seedballs being used these days in Guerilla Gardening and travelled the world to talk with men in power about using it to fight desertification.

The festival also has some workshops in its program. One is a workshop for children where they will record natural and urban sounds and then combine them into compositions, Sound Safari. Another one is “How creative musicians work” and the one I was especially interested in is “Wild Food during Jazztime”, collecting and eating wild edibles in the area surrounding Cerkno: Wild Food Improvisations.

In the entrance to the big tent there were some CD stands and one of them had a collections of books as well. There was a walking guide and to my surprise it covered a long long walking trail from Barcelona to Cerkno. If only I would have known ..... and would have had more time .... and .....

But the conditional past is a tricky tense. I want to get it out of my vocabulary. So I told the man I had seen announcing the musicians on the stage earlier that it means next year I might walk here, all the way. Leaving and returning.

I checked the other books. There was a big slightly old-fashioned one, beautifully bound. It was titled Revolucija Ene Slamice. Only when I saw the name of the author I realised what it was. Masanobu Fukuoka. Published here last year.

I was finding my way.

I lost myself in Aki Takasi’s solo performance and went to the afterparty with the musicians from the band that played before her, a wonderful trio founded by Igor Matkovic being accompanied by the Polish pianoplayer Marcin Wasilewski. As a quartet they are called “Long Distance Journey”. We talked about travelling and being on the road.

Walking, music, travelling, dancing. It is all the same thing in a way. Making lines. Leaving invisible traces. So we danced. And when they left I danced with the locals and visitors from nearby and far away. Bread and slices of sausage and ham appeared on the tables for the hungry people. I wondered if there was some of the dried stomach they are known for in this area. The barman was a slow dj but we enjoyed the long moments of silence inbetween the songs.

At some point a girl came up to me almost dragging along the wild edible man I by then knew as Dario Cortese. She pointed at my shoes and said to him: “That is why you can’t dance! You need shoes like that.” He was wearing sturdy walking shoes. I disagreed. You can dance on anything. And he told me he wasn’t a very good dancer and hardly dances. But we agreed on the fact that it doesn’t matter how you dance, where you dance. You can dance with minimal movements, even without moving. It is all in your head. You can dance without legs. He said he preferred walking in the woods, touching the earth slowly, let his eyes wander, move along the trees. I told him that was his dancing.

I danced some more, the dancing got more intense, more people joined. When I took a break on one of the comfortable benches, eating some of the bread and dried meat, I looked up and stared into the face of Han Bennink across the wall, his eyed closed, a drumstick in his mouth. I felt at home.

And when I returned to the dance floor Dario was there as well. Dancing.

Nomadic Village. In the middle of the mountains.


The sea

Slovenia. Mountain country. Rain and lots of green.

Yesterday I stood with Marjanna in the tower of villa Waldberta to enjoy the view before it turned dark. On clear days you can see the Alps from there, she said.

Later, after dinner, when we drank wine, we talked about books. She told me her favorite writer was Virginia Woolf. I left "The Waves" in Barcelona. I didn't finish it there. I tried to remember what was the last book I read. It must have been Hemmingway's "The old man and the sea."
She asked about the books I had brought on my trip. Small ones mainly. A book about knots. A book about sex and suits. A book about flowers. A biography about Franciscus of Assisi, "The very lowly.". Leigh Fermour's "A time to keep silence". Robert Walser's "The Walk". Phil Smith's "Enchanted Things. Signposts to a new nomadism." And at the last moment I grabbed this one. A theater dialogue by Renée van Marissing. "Er was niet de zee", in English: "There wasn't the sea."

There wasn't the sea. There was a dusty Slovenian city and the sun was shining for a change. I seated myself on a bench in front of the train station and waited for the train to Most na Soci. A last bus from there. Into the mountains. 

Moving slowly through Slovenia


Getting lost

I left in my suit, my soft armour, in the night. Wearing golden shoes with on the inside the text “... love is the only nutrient in the world that can be expressed. If I wake up to who I am, I will accomplish miracles...” and “barcelone” as a halo floating over my head. I took the found suitcase with the unknown people and my Pocket Memory clothes with me, ready to slowly travel through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria to do deliveries and end up in the Nomadic Village in Slovenia. When I sent in my proposal for the Nomadic Village I planned to do a short 10 day walk from Italy to Cerkno in Slovenia and practise getting lost on the way but I couldn't do it because I got lost in Barcelona. I got lost in getting lost, you could say. And now, by continuing my writing, I try to find the way back.

But back where?