Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dutch Loafers and Bed in a Box

Aunt Bobbe's Dutch wooden shoes fit me in fourth grade. I made lots of noise, stood up straight, and didn't bruise my clumsy feet.

Grandma grew red and white tulips. For science class I cross-pollinated them which created stripes the next year. Great-aunt Nora displayed the same bouquet of plastic red tulips on her dining room table our entire childhood and until she died. Holland's treasure influenced both of them. Driving from Germany into Holland we learned right off to stop and look at the flowers, and drive aware of bicyclers of all age - they have the right-of-way.

We wanted a vegetarian B&B with a washing machine. A visitor's center placed us at Dronten. According to their information, Dronten is on the manmade island that surfaced after the building of the dike in the 1950's. If the dike broke, 60% of Holland would be under water. A residential yard sign stated: "We're on our way!" heaven or higher ground?

Our host had lived in Indonesia until he was twelve. Our hostess and a girlfriend hitchhiked through Egypt into the Sudan. Wow! Tell us more. They invited us to share their Indonesian dinner: rice, potatoes, and hard boiled egg slices in a peanut sauce, with a soup made of coconut milk - exotic, like the enormous houseplants they'd had for years that flourished in the natural humidity.

In the living room they served ice cream with mice (chocolate sprinkles), hazelnut liqueur, amaretto, and homemade wine. We shared life and learned about Holland. The tulips grow in "ghost-ground": earth, sand, and peat. People really did sleep in boxes and wooden shoes have been around since the 13th century.

Friendships forged, we parted with hugs, and promises to keep in touch, and backed out the wrong direction. Rob joked, "What will the neighbors say?"
"Tell them we're on our way."

We had to see a "bed in a box." The Zeiderzee Museum captured Dutch history with slanting, sinking houses that seemed miniature - the right size for tiny Holland. An enclosed horizontal closet with a door made a bed a box that kept the occupants warm. Beneath the bed drawers served for storage. Whatever works.

In the spring, when I look out at my blooming tulips, I smile, stop and look at Bobbe's wooden shoes on my bookshelves, and wonder what our Dutch friends are doing.

copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series

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