He used the first opportunity to get off the main walkway. A winding path took him into a dark stretch of woodland, with oaktrees rising high and ivy climbing them. He breathed more freely.

A general signboard to his left read: 'Deutschland. Eichenwald', and all the trees had their own particular signs: 'Quercus Robur', 'Quercus Petraea'. Quite happy to leave the city behind him - or rather to put some distance to it on all sides around him - by entering the wellmanaged, compressed reproductions of nature of Berlin's Botanical Garden, he roamed on, not at all interested in the names, and only sometimes a little in the septemberflowers he met. He had come here to take in the atmosphere and to attain the illusion of having escaped. A bit.�

For there was still the subdued, continuous traffic noise from the roads that surrounded the Garden, and that kept it under surveillance of many patrolling cars. So that nothing green should cross the bitumen.

To be fair, Berlin had much green. All in its proper place - to be fair.

Naturally he avoided people. As soon as he saw anyone coming he took the next path away from him, her or them. There were not many, and among them there were a few that looked like him: on the run. Their eyes down, they shied. The others were fleissige Besucher who studied plants and signs, and made notes on paper - they d�d something, therefore they were.

His dodges guaranteed a capricious course; the other impulse was to be away from noise. Thus he got to the artificial lump, somewhere near the middle sections of the large Garden, where brought-in rockstones and plants formed the 'Nordliche Kalkalpen' and the 'Zentrale Urgesteinalpen'.�

It took him a while to find a stone level enough to sit upon, he even suspected 'them' to have placed everything askew so that visitors would only sit on the neat green wooden benches - that would be a german thing to do, or what?

But they hadn't: he found a suitable piece of rock and was left in peace next to the Centaurea Montana which was already dead. He reproached himself with his cheap prejudices. He now also noticed the first of yellow leaves on trees, a distance away.�

The sky lowered itself by the day now, and soon Europe would be in its dark upper dome most of the time; and he would be living through another autumn and winter in his small quarters on the second floor in a provincial town. Streets streets, a few kilometers of farmlands, barren and stinking of pig manure, roads roads, then the next urban blot and so on.

He had a suspicion that atom-clocks denied and that no-one wanted to share with him: the years became shorter every time, not due to his ageing, but really: as if a long, very long winter was nearing on all.�

He sat. It was not cold. The sky was overcast, the light was grey and soft.

When much later he heard voices coming, he stood up in selfdefence and slowly went the other way. He felt their eyes piercing his back although he knew they were not interested in him; it was habit. He must look plain now. He walked towards the yellowing leaves; these were of the Caucasiun Ahorn. At its side, as he rounded some shrubs with names, a true yellow caught his eye.

And summoned him. The Rudbeckia Fulyida summoned him with a sudden, hardtoned yellow amidst pastelled greens, greys and browns. He went there.

By itself each flower was not very special: they stood high off the ground on stems like any other; they were rather big, rather simple with a dull black heart, and with large petals that looked slender and yet plump; and the yellow was overdone. But the sheer number of them, so close together,� made them a miracle.�

As soon as he passed a line - very strictly set - and brought his eyes within a meter of their many eyes, they all burst into extreme intenseness. Blotted out all other things, material or ghost, with colour; he gasped.

� willem weijters.

(berlin/tilburg sept. 1994)

Published on  September 6th, 2016