Thursday, January 4, 2007

April Flowers Bring May Flowers

My third grade teacher was Dutch. Mrs. Frumveller used many images and stories about The Netherlands in her lessons. She devoted some of her lessons to teaching about Holland, Michigan.

On one of my visits to Amsterdam we visited a museum in Harlem. There, in a huge picture gallery, were paintings by a notable Dutch artist. I was attracted to several of the paintings as I seemed to have recognized them. They may have been the very scenes of children skating on the canals with the windmills in the background that my teacher used.

We learned about skating races on the ice covered canals. We learned about tulips. Tulips, tulips and more ... even today I remember the endless tulip art projects that the teachers in my elementary school used to enrich our learning experience. Of course, the annual Michigan Week lessons always included some information about Holland, Michigan. Our very own piece of Old Europe on Michigan's West Coast.

My visits to the Netherlands have been quite enjoyable. I have been able to see different seasons and appreciate how comfortable the weather is in Amsterdam. I was enthralled with the city's historical significant -- I walked where the world has walked. During World War I the city of Amsterdam was a "free city" in a neutral country. American, German, English, and Italian diplomats and soldiers walked these streets.

World War II was a nightmare for the lowlanders. The Germans goose-stepped their way through Amsterdam's streets. Anne Frank's hiding place was discovered and today the building is a very moving monument to the spirit and the hope that a young girl had for a life free of oppression and the fear of murder. History. The draw and the drama of world events, cultures, and empires. My ancestors may have lived in Holland. (That reminds me -- gotta get some more of my genealogy researched and recorded.)

The "tolerance" of the kind Dutch people has made Amsterdam one of Europe's Gay Capitals.

A few years back I bought a book about Dutch culture and a Dutch language CD. Dutch is an interesting language. Perhaps even easier than German if you also have other language experiences. My research activities have been enlightening and enjoyable.

The folks I met there were charming and polite. I am anxious to meet some of my friends upon my return.

I look forward to being in The Netherlands.


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