|Outside Gulpen, Monday morning|
So far I have not had to climb much heading west out of Gulpen. It would be difficult to imagine a more tranquil spot than the one I've chosen to write this, at the bottom end of a meadow along a pebbly lane underneath spreading elms. A mist lingers over the scene and a cool breeze carries the fragrance of cow dung. The fietspad to Maastricht stretches out before me.
Here's a tip, fietsers. Sometimes you may miss guiding numbers, especially zipping down a hill where some image may arrest your attention such as a monk holding up a menu or an old woman in a salmon housecoat walking a pair of collies up the road. As I approach her to ask for directions ("Is this the way to Reijmerstok?"), I see how attractive she is though fading, with her granny glasses and tresses of gray hair.
|The edge of Reijmerstok|
From there it was a tough climb and again I had to get off and walk, though older people, many female, kept at it until they'd reached the plateau and only then took a break for a healthy, potassium-rich banana. From the plateau you can see some green hills receding in the distance. It would be an average vista for Mexico but here it's considered spectacular. The tabletop is heavily farmed, with orchards, fields of wheat and peas, hops strung up on racks by Gulpener, the beer maker. I pass farm buildings where hay is pleasingly fermenting - what did they used to call it at Potomac Vegetable Farm? - silage.
Just as the sun pops through the cloud cover I reach the plateau and find myself at the east side of Reijmerstok. Just a big tree ("the 'balls' look somewhat like a sweetgum, but the bark and leaves don't," writes Myra) at the head of a lane leading into the village and this bench.
At 12 noon in Banholt, the church bells peal as big, fluffy while clouds hover behind the spire. This is Catholic territory.
|Lord of infrastructure, Banholt|
|Ceramique neighborhood, Maastricht|
|Maastricht, view from the Hoeg Brogk|