I must have been about 16, perhaps 17. Nature was without doubt the most important thing in my life (I wasn’t in a relationship). I loved flowers, especially if I could identify the species. And whenever I saw a common brimstone butterfly I jumped for joy. But the first chiffchaff of the year: that was the crowning joy!
Through the local nature club I got to know Michiel. He was between 30 and 40, and I felt sorry for him. Because Michiel was a conductor on public transport. Not by choice, because he would have liked to be a forest warden. And he did apply for those kinds of jobs, but he didn’t stand a chance. ‘If you don’t have a qualification in that area they don’t even read your letter,’ he complained. So nature became something to enjoy at the weekend.
I won’t let that happen to me, I thought. I understood at that age that to get a job working with nature you had to be dedicated and get a relevant qualification.
And lo and behold: it has all worked out. Before long I shall even be a Doctor of Ecology. Beaming with satisfaction with my life I listen to the loud chiffchaffchiffchaffchiffchaff…
Then I reach involuntarily for my phone. 22 March, it says on the screen. Shit, so these birds have been in the country in large numbers for at least a week before I noticed anything. Of course, how could it be otherwise? All I do these days is sit at my computer.
This takes me back to my youth. I think enviously of Michiel. He could enjoy nature at the weekend.