If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


5 NOV 2017

DELFT - Thursday's list has the market near the top. Fresh squeezed orange juice is on it, and coffee from the shop behind the city hall. The list was short this last week, so I was not there long and came upon my buurman on my way out. Buurman is Dutch for neighbor, male, and Buurvrouw if female.

He was sitting on the side of the market on a shop's steps, his bike lay on the ground, and his groceries were scattered about. I stopped to help gather up run-away vegetables and fruit. Brussels sprouts were especially hard to pick up, like a sack of over-sized marbles had spilled out. I took a look at the basket he rigged on to the back of his bike: a cheap, cracked plastic crate held on with a single, tired bungee cord. Once all the groceries were stuffed back into a satchel, he tried to sling it back into the basket.



A day recently reminded me of mornings in California. Sun had yet to burn through, so everything was in soft outline, and the air felt damp. I was in the shared courtyard in back that day. There were three trees originally which were cut down due to a blight. Three new ones were planted in their place. One of those did not make it and was cut off. It is growing and good luck to it.

I figured he either fell into the canal or made it home. He was OK because I saw him the next day. It was round the time he takes the dogs out. The local animal shelter fosters dogs with him; he has been doing that as long as I have lived here. Normally, there are 4 to 5 dogs in his house. His dog-bike has a bin in front for a 3-legged dog. So, one rides and the rest race along, barking. He pedals and the parade goes through the alleys, parks, anywhere they fancy.

I was telling my partner about this and was trying to come up with a word to describe: over stuffing your grocery bag, using broken parts hobbled together to do something they were never designed for, and stubbornly forging on. She was looking at me waiting, and I said: "It was so me, so 'Gary'."

That did not work; basket fell off. The satchel was zipped this time so did not spill again. He needed to try it another time, before deciding the cord needed to be wrapped differently. I stood on the side and did not give advice.

He was satisfied, and I offered to carry some of his bags as I had a light load this day. No thank you, buurman. He hitched a leg over then mounted the bike, one hand on a handlebar, one behind clutching the crate.

He was upright but not moving. The bike started to topple, and I was ready to rescue him. His legs pumped the pedals or tiptoed the ground to keep balance when he stalled. He was off! I walked in the same direction.

We were going about the same pace at first so I followed as he did his best to keep going. Folks moved out of his way. He is Dutch; of course, he made it to our corner and round it. I did not see him after that.

Sometimes, an event will let you see how you are. My partner knew exactly what I meant when I said the show was Gary. Yes, that was me from start to finish. It is good to know other men do things as crazily as I do.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen