Earth, Wind, and Mire


They proudly say, “God made heaven and earth, but the Dutch made Holland.”

If this be blasphemy, then the promise of the rainbow has frustrated the old prince of vengeance. (To my many friends who know nothing of the Bible or Noah’s survival of the flood, just ignore that last reference.)

We learned on our stop in Kinderdijk, a museum of water management—wrongly presumed by this author to be a resort of baby lesbians—that the Netherlands had better engineering in the 17th century to protect its cows than does New Orleans today for its jazz musicians.

The wet landscape is adorned with windmills in a sacred appreciation of the past that would make any gay tchotchke-lover weep. One mill is kept in full sail (a “rotating” responsibility, one might say), turning noiselessly for the glory of Holland and the adoration of the euro-toting tourist. The cost is kept down because maintenance is done by volunteers who get to live rent-free in each mill. This is a land of people sensible about more than just prostitution and hashish.

The Dutch have a word for the countries of the world who are constantly shoveling mud out of their kitchens after another unexpected rise of the river which translates roughly to “stupid.” That’s probably unfair to those who live in a tight crevice between steep hillsides separating mountain rains from the deep blue sea, but for people who live below the surface of the north Atlantic, some respect is their due.


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