austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We went strolling, drank lemonade

The other thing we wanted to see was Windmill Isle. This is a park within Holland and it has, well, look at its name. The windmill was imported from the Netherlands about fifty years ago, saving one that had been slated for demolition. It turned out we were going on a day the park had free admission, too, which made us feel better about getting there so late. The remnants of some kind of Meijer's event were cleaning up as we arrived.

They have an antique carousel too, although one only large enough for kids to ride. It's one imported from the Netherlands, although where exactly it had been before 1971 is not perfectly clear. This happens. The music playing included selections from Grease, because what could be of dubious taste in that?

They also have a street organ, named De Vier Kolommen (The Four Columns), which explained why bunny_hugger would have sworn there was a street organ named The Four Columns at Dutch Village. The sign on it explains the City of Amsterdam gave the organ to the United States in 1947, in gratitude for that whole liberating-the-nation thing. I feel like I'd like to hear more of how this organ got chosen and how it ended up in Holland, Michigan, though.

Though we didn't have time to explore their reconstructed or transplanted Dutch buildings we were able to get to the important one, the windmill, for the last tour of the day. It is a working windmill, grinding flour under the guidance of an actual Dutch-guild-certified miller, Alisa Crawford. America's first Dutch-certified miller, according to their plaque. We saw her in passing while the tour guide led us around.

The windmill was originally on a taller hill, which has been replace here in the United States by a three-storey base. This allows for room for storage and materials and the like. I got to ask the question that we suspect the guide left unexplained so there'd be something for people to ask: how did they get the grindstone up to the top of the windmill? Not for the present-day, when machinery makes that sort of thing easy, but in the old days when moving a stone ten feet across up sixty feet from the ground would be hard. Historically, animal-drawn pulley systems. Presently, they cast a new concrete grindstone in place.

bunny_hugger had a question that didn't quite get answered. The windmill blades, and some of the cabinets inside, had a Modernist tulip logo, and she was curious when that came from --- who designed it, was it unique to this windmill or the park, that sort of thing. The guide explained the tulip was a symbol of Holland and that's true enough but just showed the actual question didn't get through.

Not previously known to us, but fascinating anyway: when the windmill is out of use, the blades are locked in place in positions that convey information. Different orientations can convey the messages ``brief rest'' (as in, for hours to days), ``longer rest'' (as in, the miller is away for several weeks or more), ``joyful news'', and even a ``mourning position''. It makes sense to use the windmill blades to signal messages about why they're not spinning, but, well.

The last thing we were doing for the day, and it was a packed day, was getting to the harbor to view the lighthouse. It's a cute, if squat, structure. Unfortunately we could only see it from across a navigation channel. The lighthouse itself is on a private beach. There is a path to allow members of the public access to it, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, neither of which day this was. The housing development's security guard came up to shoo us off as we approached the path and got in range of the sign. And this after we spent about twenty minutes driving around twisty passages and the navigation channel to even find the spot. Our view of it still counts for purposes of competitive lighthouse-seeing, of course, but it ended the night on an unpleasant touch of upper-class warfare.

Still, I'm looking forward to getting back to Holland, maybe even when the tulips are in bloom.

Trivia: Samuel Morse's initial code was a dictionary of five thousand numbers assigned to words. England, for example, was 252. Source: Signor Marconi's Magic Box, Gavin Weightman.

Currently Reading: Austerity Britain, 1945 - 1951, David Kynaston.

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