Monday, August 18, 2008

My European Trip 4 -- Kinderdijk

Birdsong brings relief / to my longing.
I am just as ecstatic as they are, /but with nothing to say!
Please, universal soul, practice/ some song, or something, through me!

-- Rumi (from Birdsong -- translated by Coleman Barks)

Kinderdijk is a small village unique for 19 beautiful windmills dating from the 1500s. The name Kinderdijk is Dutch for "Child's Dike". The folktale says that during severe flooding in 1421 people found a wooden cradle floating, and a cat jumping back and forth in the cradle trying to keep it in balance. When the cradle eventually came near the dike, someone fished the cradle out and saw that in it a baby slept quiet and dry. This area hence got the name, Kinderdijk.


Holland is a country of windmills. The Dutch invented the world's first windmill in 1229. These windmills however, are not used for the purpose of agriculture as you think, but rather for pumping out of water to keep the soil dry. Remember, Holland is a country most of which is below the sea level.


The weather changed dramatically. The above photo was taken before a thunderstorm. Ten minutes later however, all colors magically switched and generated the following picture.


Along the canal, the vigorous reed stretches out.


In Amsterdam I unexpectedly met an old friend, also an alumnus of Fudan University, whom I have known for ten years. He generously offered to accompany me first to Leiden, and then to Kinderdijk. -- Thank you, my friend! We talked, talked and talked, surprisingly finding that we had so much to share. (When I was writing this, I ran across another alumnus in MSN who now stays in Belgium. He sent me a message, saying "it's so good to catch up with an old friend after so many years". :) ) My feeling is the same.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?"


It's the middle of the afternoon. The sun is shining after a hearty thunderstorm. We're sitting on a small deck, hanging down our feet towards the water. It's a beautiful, mild day filled with the sounds of birds singing and the smell of crisp breeze. There seemed to be a tacit agreement. We simply sat there, silent and totally relaxed.

(the scenery in front of us when sitting on a small deck)

Life is really unpredictable. Two straight lines have been parallel for ten years, and all of a sudden they crossed at an abrupt point. The track then is no longer the same.

Next stop: Brussels

Photographed by Jennie Bai.

Copyright ©Jennie Bai. All Rights Reserved.

No comments: