Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Travelblog: 19 Windmills at Kinderdyke

The heat wave started today, as promised. Our temperature climbed from Sunday’s high at 2 degrees to a low this morning of 14 and a high of a blistering 23. In a sense, it got warm enough to snow, and we had a good six inches of the pure white powdery stuff on our porch, lawn and driveway when we got up this morning. So, for just the second time this season, I pulled out the snow shovel and heaved ho ho ho. It took an hour and a half to get our long driveway cleared even while another half inch was falling, plus the front pprch for guests and the back porch for Meg. Our little five pound Chihuahua finds herself shoulder deep in the snow if I don’t clear a path to her toilet. This makes her most reluctant to actually do her business – do her duty. Clearing a path for her is a kindness to her and a way of avoiding messes in the house. The nice thing about shoveling that much snow is that it is great exercise and keeps me warm even in the snowy cold conditions. This, in turn, helps me keep my boyish figure, so hard earned so late in life. Diane comments now and then that shoveling snow doesn’t bother her much at all: she sits inside and watches me do it. I guess it’s a win, win. Out there in the cold, I was remembering our last wintertime visit to Holland in 2009. It was very cold there, that trip. Temperatures hovered around the zero mark (Celsius) and felt much colder. Of course, from a Montana perspective, cold is something altogether different for me now, and I live in Montana’s banana belt, not the bitter flat on the other side of the Great Divide. It is actually the frozen banana belt, but everything lives by comparison. I heard today that a temperature reading at the South Pole was minus 132. Like I said, it’s all relative to your point of view. In 2009, the weather in Holland was brisk. It was more than brisk. One of our little side trips took us to Kinderdyke, a famous spot where nineteen windmills fill a large space by the dyke. Legend has it that, centuries ago, a great flood hit that region of Holland, as one often did through the years. Many lives were lost. But rescuers on the river found a basket floating on the water. A small kitten was standing on the basket, mewing wildly, desperate for help. The rescuers pulled the basket in, to find there was an infant inside. Both were saved. The people of the region decided that they ought to build a protective dyke so that no other child would ever be in that situation again – the children’s dyke, the Kinderdyke. And later they built nineteen windmills to harness the power that the dyke was there to control. It is a spot worth visiting. There is a walkway that winds among all nineteen windmills, and a gift shop, all that jazz – a working tourist photo op. But the day we went, it was bitter cold. We parked, got out, and made our way toward the windmills. We got as far as the gift shop, which was closed. We looked out toward the windmills, each of us thinking, just how much did we want to do this? Annemieke asked, “So, just how much do you want to do this?” and we all said, “Not this much!” Maybe we’ll make it back in summer. There’s a toy in the gift shop I think would be perfect for Xander. I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

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