Story by Ghislaine de Rond:
In the early morning I ride my bicycle through the quiet residential areas of Lelystad. I hear a peacock calling when I cycle through the city park. Under my hat, I keep an eye on the road. I better not take off my cap because then I am breathing a cloud of flies. In the Jagersbos I lower the cap as far as possible when I roll down the hill into the Jagersveld.
The Jagersveld is one of the most expensive and most remote residential areas in the city. Many of the houses are screened with large gates, shielded from strangers who shyly peer under their caps at the neat lawns maintained by robotic lawn mowers. Every now and then I see a few gray balls working in their large garden, but usually the residents are safely withdrawn in their luxurious homes.
From the Jagersveld I drive onto the extensive Beginweg. This road leads to a group of small-scale farms and market gardens.
I drive past a sign with 'Lelystad', now I am officially out of the built-up area. In the distance I see a small figure sitting on the road. I wonder what it is, a cat or a dog maybe? When I get closer I can see from the beautiful dark blue feathers and the long green-blue tail that it is a peacock. He dives into the bushes as I pass. To the right, I see a cropland with a clear sky above it. Behind me I see the high edge of the forest that surrounds the Jagersveld as a large, green fortress wall. The trees in this part of Lelystad are already relatively old.
After passing the peacock I arrive at a T-junction. Here I have to go to the right. On this road is the horticulture: de Stek, where I work this summer. De Stek is not far from the Hanze line. Daily trains run on the Hanze line to the north of the country or towards Lelystad center, the only station in Lelystad; if you don't include the ghost station 'Lelystad-Zuid', where a train has never stopped.
As soon as I arrive at the Stek I see John, a man with a blue bandana and a Flemish accent. He piles crates on top of each other to place them in the cold store. I wave to him and park my bike next to the mobile home where my bosses, Piet and Renee, are still having breakfast. I take off my cap and step inside. At the table, the two Spanish interns: David and Sergio and the French intern: Amandine, are having breakfast with my bosses. The interns are temporarily staying at the horticulture. As soon as Renee sees me, she immediately gets up and discusses with Piet what I can do. There are still some cards to be written for the crates, I can start with that right away. Then I can immediately continue picking broad beans. Slowly the mobile home drips empty and I sit, accompanied by dog Yvi, writing cards. Lettuce, class 1, Holland .. did I forget something? .. oh yes, 10st. Next ticket ..
I hear Yvi munching on her breakfast, a sound I've come to associate with the earliest hours of my working mornings.
When I finish the tickets I walk to the shed next to the cold store where I put on a pair of rain boots, padded rain pants and a purple raincoat. Although it is not very cold, it is always nice to be well protected against dirt and to protect your knees from the clay soil.
I grab a few crates from the pile and walk to the broad bean field behind the mobile home. The sun is really starting to come through now. I am so protected in my work clothes that I feel like I am swimming when I walk through the bean field. I put my crate somewhere and disappear into the tall bushes. Now I will pick until the coffee break at 10:00.
Sometimes I look above the field to see what is going on there. I see a train stopped on the track, waiting for the red traffic light. Every now and then the neighbor passes by on his tractor over the adjacent field. I don't know what he grows. To be honest, I also don't know what exactly is grown on the Stek. It doesn't really matter right now either. Now I just need to know fava beans.
After about two hours of picking, Piet comes on his tractor to collect the full crates of shiny broad beans. Piet has a wild gray head of hair and a thoughtful, slightly elitist way of talking. He doesn't like accounting, thinks himself more of a real horticulturist. Although De Stek is in Piet's name, it sometimes seems as if Renee owns the horticulture. Renee once came to work at Piet as a volunteer, and stayed because of the delicious strawberries that Piet grew.
Time for coffee and stroopwafels. Everyone helps to prepare cups, chairs, biscuits and thermos jugs with tea and coffee. Dog Yvi foams under the table in search of something edible. After about half an hour we return to the field in work harnesses, where the sun is now shining generously.
I will cycle home in a few hours, tired but satisfied. Until then, my world is small and green, I am sheltered under the tops of the bean plants and I only know broad beans.