Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Holland and Spring

Notice my new header?  Yep, I found another gorgeous scene from the Netherlands to grace my blog.

You may have noticed that I use my blog for all kinds of things.  My blog is the blogging equivalent of a casserole: I throw in whatever I feel like at the moment and serve it out with a smile.  One day I'm complaining about laundry, another I'm bragging about a rare moment of craftiness.  One day I stand on a soapbox, another day I sit down and dish on our latest trip to a doctor's office.  And every so often I discuss Gacky Sage vs. Silver Sage

I began blogging to sort out and record the way I felt about some of the challenges in my life: children with special medical needs, the death of my youngest daughter, my evolving roles as wife and mother.  In fact, I named my blog after an essay written by Emily Perl Kingsley, "Welcome to Holland," which illustrates some of those challenges so well.  (You can read it here.)

Looking back, I can see that I have done a lot of sorting and recording.  But along the way, I think my blogging has begun to accomplish something I didn't expect: it documents the fact that despite some unanticipated challenges in my life, I've continued to read and write and do laundry and plan menus and go on vacations and sew things and make dinner and make cupcakes and give my husband  Valentines and give my kids haircuts and do things with friends and laugh at myself and paint my kitchen and.....so many other things.  I've continued to live and find joy in living.  There were some dark days, when I wasn't sure doing all that could be possible.  I'm so, so, grateful for the gift of time, and for a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for all of us.

If you are living through some dark days yourself, take heart.  Or, as we like to say at our house, "Hold on Tight and Choose the Right!"  There are brighter days to come.

Maybe your life isn't going the way you expected, right now, but stop, look around you, and see if you discover some beauty in your own landscape.  After all, "...Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts." 

Today, in the spirit of Emily Perl Kingsley's essay, I want to share some of the things that make spring in real Holland wonderful.  I'll leave it up to you to find the parallels in your own personal piece of "Holland."

Few people realize that tulips did not originate in Holland. They were first imported from Turkey in 1554 as collectors' items. By the 17th century, the speculation in bulbs became a mania.
Merchants were so obsessed with their beauty that they would pay thousands of dollars for a single bulb. The tulip even gained a stock market value and fortunes were both made and lost.
Tulips are still a big business for Holland. Bulb fields stretch for miles across the countryside. During the peak season, a rainbow of vivid colors carpets the earth for as far as the eye can see.
From http://www.infohub.com/Articles/traveluv5.html,  Holland, Everything's Coming Up Tulips:
Add to this picture the fabulous annual mid-April Flower Parade of the Dutch Bulb District. Consisting of approximately twenty bloom-covered floats, each covered with about 100,000 flowers, it is similar to California's Rose Parade in the U.S., except that this parade consists of floats covered with bulb flowers and is an all-day, on-going trek from one town to another. The gorgeous procession travels from Noordwijk, in the heart of the blub fields, to Haarlem, about 24 miles (40 kilometers) away. 

 There are more than 10,600 miles (17,000 km) of designated bicycle tracks around the Netherlands.  The landscape is generally flat, making it ideal for bike rides.  
Wouldn't it be great to see sights like these?  Windmills and tulips?  Imagine doing so while you pedal along at a leisurely pace, on your designated bike path!  (Am I making you want to go on a bike tour of Holland, right now?)
Just think of the pictures you'd come home with after a trip to Holland in the spring!
 Did you know that besides tulips and windmills and Rembrandts, Holland has diamonds?
 The diamond trade in Amsterdam attracts millions of tourists and buyers from around the world.  Many famous diamonds were cut and polished in Amsterdam. 
Let's go back to Rembrandts.  Holland does have Rembrandts, and this is one of my favorites:

The Night Watch

One thing I didn't know--but should have guessed--is that Holland has tulips named after Rembrandt!  They are very stripey and striking, like this:
 From Emily Perl Kingsley's essay, "Welcome to Holland":
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
 I hope you have a moment to find and enjoy the beauty in  
your own unexpected journey, today.

This post has been linked to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky.


  1. This is the second time in a month I've been directed to the essay about Holland. From two entirely different perspectives. And this blogger posted pictures from Holland yesterday that you might enjoy: http://sherimhoward.blogspot.com/2010/04/beautiful-holland.html

    You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. I can relate to your reasons for why you started blogging. When our son had his first crisis and our world turned upside down I felt like my head was going to explode if I didn't find a way to get all the words out.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  3. I saw the word "Holland" on the McLinky list and said, "Aha, I know what THAT one is referring to!" That essay was the first thing my s-i-l brought to me in the hospital when my daughter Julianna was born with DS. I love the pix of Holland, especially the aerial shot--wow!

  4. I used the Holland story many times when I use to speak about the challenges of having a child with disabilities. It was a nice reminder for me today. I struggle from time to time with accepting the foreign land I continue to find myself in and while my friends' daughters graduate from college and announce engagements, I'm still looking at windmills. I needed to be reminded that they are quite lovely. Thanks!

  5. What a beautiful way to explain to enjoy the little moments! Thank you for sharing. And thank you for visiting my blog!

  6. thank you for the journey... someday i'd love to really be there. and the essay? i think it is lovely... and i've shred it a time or two myself. many blessings to you... and i think your casserole recipe is just grand!

  7. Oh my, you must be a girl after my own heart...so nice to meet you, your comments made me smile!!

  8. Hi, I actualy live in Holland...and I love your blog! You love these pictures of cource, and that is a good lesson for us, as we don't see the beauty of this anymore...