You are watching: God created the world but the dutch created
by Madeleine Kando
Once more, i am visiting beautiful Holland, wherein my mommy still lives and also where I thrived up. She is resolved in the northern tip of this tiny country, her level abutting a pristine stretch the green areas dotted v sheep, cows and horses. That is spring time and the high-pitched bleating of recently born lambs calling for your mother, fills the air. Large white swans gradually navigate the little "ditches", prefer miniature barges with elegant wings. Ns cannot resist driving on these small polder roads, barely maybe to keep my wheel from veering into the trenches that separate the fields.It is miraculously beautiful. The landscape has not changed since the dutch masters of the golden e immortalized it in their renowned paintings. A sliver of a horizon dotted v church steeples and poplars, domed with an enormous sky. The light from the intricate net of waterways, lakes, rivers and the surrounding sea is reflected back on a hazy countryside, as if it were bathed in milk.I park my automobile on the sheet of a lush green ar that a few centuries ago, to be at the bottom that the ocean. This canvas, polka dotted through yellow dandelions is now dry, separated indigenous the tempestuous north Sea through a mighty dyke, the Hondsbosche Zeewering. Built of sand, mud, concrete and hand woven reed mattresses, the four-mile lengthy dyke is simply one the the many barriers that the dutch have developed to safeguard themselves versus the sea. When two facets meet, there is beauty, yet there is likewise danger. End the previous 800 years, half of what is currently the surface ar of Holland was reclaimed indigenous the sea and also most the the population lives in areas that are below sea level. Holland"s history is the story that their battle to store their feet dry and also were it not for the dykes, storm surging protectors, dams and sluices , the Dutch would be swimming to work.It every started as soon as a few Saxon tribes determined to take advantage of the fertile sediments left behind through the retreating tide of the north Sea and also realized it would certainly be smarter to develop a nation by building it fairly than conquering it. The struggle versus the sea is no the only source of headache for the Dutch. The nation is in result a huge river delta, often called the drainpipe the Europe, where 3 of the continent"s largest rivers, the Rhine, the Meuse and also the Scheldt dump their water into the phibìc Sea. Once Germany or France take a leak, it is Holland that has actually to resolve the potential difficulties with the plumbing. Rivers have tendency to meander, leisurely changing their course whenever they should discharge overfill water. Their large tentacles slither hither and also thither over the ages, leaving big areas the low-lying abundant soil behind, once they decision to adjust course. Those areas too space prone to flooding, particularly now the rivers space gorged early out to worldwide warming. Rather than restricting the overflow by increasing the dykes, the Dutch room working top top a project called "Making room because that the river". Dykes room lowered, enabling flood waters to to fill the floodplains, thereby protecting the farmland behind it. Whole farms space relocated top top "terps", artificially raised mounds and made safe. Right here too the Dutch are taking fate in their very own hands. On one of my excursions ns take a cycle ride follow me the coast. Two massive dredge barges are visible in the distance, repetitively spewing sand. Why would they intake sand in the water, i wonder. That seems prefer a futile thing to do. Later I find out that this is part of another meticulously plan nationwide task to reinforce the weak links in Holland"s coast. Eager designers have attracted a digital grid the the entire coastline, sending out ships to measure up the depth of the water, and also where the is too deep for their liking they call these large dredgers to go and also dump sand, ultimately enlarging the beaches and also giving birth to brand-new dunes. It is my second week in Holland, and my interest in this subject has morphed right into a full fledged obsession. I am steering on one of the earliest dyke framework in the country, a arsenal of dykes a 100 miles long, encircling a huge swath of the province of West Friesland. Dykes space topped through narrow, elevated roadways that meander v the level polders, crossing small villages, usually with an old church at your center. They attach farmhouses with their overlapping thatched roofs, countless of them tho emblazoned with the shield of the lock they belonged to. The dykes skirt along vast fields the purple and pink tulips, pass by old windmills top top the sheet of canals therefore straight, they it seems ~ to have been sculpted out that the earth with a razorblade. The lamb peacefully grazing top top the embankment, framed by one expanse that grey water in the background room not simply there by chance. Castle are component of a lengthy standing tradition. Grazing reinforces the grass growth and also the stoming of tiny hoofs compacts the soil to make the dykes stronger.The Dutch carry out not shy away from playing God when it comes to protecting their country from the sea. Fixed obstacles such together dykes and revetments seem much more protective than just dumping a little of sand somewhere, yet these irreversible structures only difficulties the sea and it protests by producing larger waves and increasing erosion, eventually causing a enlarge problem. The dutch are currently taking a "soft" approach; much better to feed the hungry beast v sand which, prefer a cow, the sea will ruminate and eventually spit ago at the land.Their most daring and also innovative task is the "sand engine", an artificially produced "baby beach" which, in time will feed the existing beach, lure wildlife and also reinforce the coast against the climbing sea level. The is the an initial and only among its kind and also the human being is city hall closely. Offering nature a little push in the butt to execute its organic work the depositing sand every time the birds comes is together a simple, however so unconventional idea that it took humanity this lengthy to come up through it.Now that ns no longer live here, I constantly marvel at the impeccable road problems during my frequent visits. There are no longer border crossings in Europe, but the road conditions will tell you when you leave Dutch territory. But all this pales compared to the water infrastructure. As soon as the last significant flood destroyed thousands that lives and flooded a huge part that the country, ns was very young. The Delta Works, an enormous project that took 40 year to complete was the result; a promise the netherlands made to us to never let this happen again. I thrived up in Holland and I understand that water is as vital to the Dutch as sand is to an Arab. Mine memories of having actually to take mandatory swim lessons in center school, fully dressed mental you, and learning just how to rescue a drowning class mate, attest come this. I skated to institution over the frozen canals of Amsterdam, daring my friends to skate under the bridges, where the ice is thin. Few of us were late for our morning classes, having to go earlier home to readjust out of our wet clothes. But my fondest memories space those of skating top top the lakes, the black ice singing through each hit of the long chisels on my wooden skates. Afterwards, mine cold fingers clutching a cup of warmth cocoa at one of the "koek en zopie" refreshments stalls, right there top top the ice. It was magic.The Holland of snapshot books is simply that: a picture. Holland is ecologically in dire straights. If the sea and the rivers decision to join forces to take back what was theirs at various times in the past, Holland doesn"t stand a chance. However there is no informing how much Dutch ingenuity and also foresight have the right to take this tiny country.
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