Of the whole attempt at seeding this spring just one of the seedlings is still in an upright position.

This year I did not buy the sunflower seeds ‘new’, but used the grains from the own previous harvest. During my absence from the house throughout a long winter they dried out to perfection. Perhaps it was too great a challenge for Evolution, in quality as well as in quantity this new crop may be called thin.

After having put the seeds in the small slots of a borrowed seeding tray, I them with a sheet of bubble plastic, delicately perforated. This kept the heat inside, while letting in both light and raindrops.

After a while, though, heavy spring rains and a nasty wind drove the plastic down against the first rising shoots. So off with that rubbish! After all, isn’t plastic the garment in which the Devil dresses up when visiting Mother Earth, as Norman Mailer claimed!

In order to protect the young plants against pecking birds and shitting cats, I posted a screen over them which, some time ago, remained after the demolition of my previous gas stove. A real handyman always saves everything.

It looked quite elegant in the bargain:

In the end, of the dozens of seeds planted about seven shoots came across. They got their own little pot, cherished as they were by gardener and weather gods. After their subsequent transplantation into larger vessels all but three of them got the worst of it. Finally flower no. 3 also perished.

Thus remains one flower planted in the garden. Thereof can be rightly said that it has a Renaissance attitude.

Those women at the time who – their shoulders backwards, abdomen and pelvis forward, ditto head – made the impression of a carnal serpentine.

In the meantime the once bare courtyard had changed into true floral delight. The roses bloomed this year like never before.

Verbena and geranium, after having enjoyed a wet spring, now enjoyed a summer exploding in tropical heat. Everything – except the second remaining sunflower in its cast iron pot in front of the house. An oddly overgrown, leptosome plant that won’t survive without a solid prop. Even so, I fear that the first thrust of a summer’s storm will bring her down.


Bad omen, symbolizing a bleak year of physical and amorous debacle. For the first time in all my seventeen years in La Roche there were also flowerpots that remained empty.

Last year’s soil is still in there. Dry as powder or hard as stone. From where I sit this is hard to decide. I just don’t feel like getting up from my lounge-chair and the camera eye can bring them to me. But dead earth it is, that much is certain.

Along with this spindly, last survivor these empty pots are emblematic of a life that does not really want to live. The decay of a soul, a dissipation that also shows itself in uncut grass and poorly maintained shutters.

Sierksma, La Roche 18.8/2016


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. The reader, interested in my writings on aesthetics, literature, and sociology, may want to open Academia.edu, where various pieces are published.

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