Nescio, his walks and Bert Verhoeff

Nescio’s Natuurdagboek (Nature Diary) is for himself. A log. With times and places of trips to where those who have legs and eyes can harvest images. And back. And with keywords that were enough for him, such as “First of all: on the Brink on a bench and looking through the young greenery to the dots of white sky above, fascinating.”

He kept it from 13 February 1946 onward. After the hunger winter of 1944/5 in Amsterdam and at the beginning of his retirement. The trips have more functions than building a collection of images alone. They take time and they give a meaning that does justice to his unique talent at a time when he is buried under available time, in retirement, under which he would succumb if he did not spend a large part of it individually. His wife knew who he was and was happy with what remained available – she participated frequently. And: she had unique talents of her own that required their own space.

Bert Verhoeff takes pictures. He put together a book with images from destinations of Natuurdagboek 50 years later. He called it De boomgaard der gelukzaligen (The Orchard of the Blessed). It is full of photos that would have hurt Nescio because they show how spoiled the places where “his” images could be relived are.

I cannot understand the title of the book. Unless it refers to the ability to see an image as a whole and to remember it as a source for blessing. I find an example in the front part of Verhoeff’s cover photo:

Half of Verhoeff’s cover photo: Amersfoort – Kattenbroek

The image awakens the image collector in me. I’d be surprised if Nescio wouldn’t have added it to his own collection, if possible at all – aside from his aversion to urban encroachment.

It might even have helped him in facing the eternal repetitions that were, are, and remain the building blocks of our existence. Eternal repetitions that weighed on him and that his sense of humor couldn’t always adequately match.