I am now seventy two, and when I look back on my life, images of my youth appear very vividly before my eyes. Like many others I have come to realise how much of my life was formed during those years. My inquiring mind gathered the seeds, which later grew to maturity in my temperament and character.
I am a farmer's son. Four years before the outbreak of the Second World War, I was born in a hamlet near the country village of Sleidinge, twelve kilometers north-west of Ghent. The countryside there is fat and there are a lot of canals. The Netherlands and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (Zealandic Flanders) are just up the road. The Westerschelde River is a fve-hour walk away. Our house was halfway between Ghent and Eeklo in the middle of a triangle formed by the Leie Canal, the Ghent– Terneuzen Canal and the Leopold Canal, and I can recall vividly the country lanes from our farmhouse to the village, the colourful corn and maize felds in the summer, the white painting-like landscapes in the winter.