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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In Flanders' Fields

Southern Limburg, the most southern tip of the most southern province of The Netherlands, is legally Dutch. But it’s landscape and atmosphere are more Belgium, with a hint of French and a dollop of German mixed in. It’s my favorite part of the country. 

The architecture is typical: white stucco houses with dark wooden beams showing on the inside and out, usually with window boxes with cascading red geraniums under each window. The land here is not flat but very hilly. Gorgeous rolling hills of pastures with cows, interspersed with forests and tiny villages. Each village has a medieval look: narrow crooked streets lined with houses that lean in a tight circle around a pointy church. Sometimes the streets are so narrow that I was sure we were driving on a bicycle path but it always really was the street - just wide enough for the horse and wagon that used to come around the bend not long ago. 

We found a lovely little house to rent - a small brick building with a kitchen, tiny living room with fireplace and a small bed- and bathroom. Perfect for a week of hiking and writing.
I had wifi and a kitchen table so I happily worked away on overdue manuscripts and tedious editing. In the mornings I dropped Kees off at the spot of his choice from where he would hike that day. He savored these hilly hikes through foggy farm land and picturesque forests. 

We’ve been so lucky: in nearly 3 months we had 3 days of rain.
We spent one lovely sunny Sunday hiking for the local ladies’ choir. They had organized a fundraiser walk. We enjoyed seeing many other hikers trudging among the cow patties. 

One morning I noticed I was driving right by the American Military Cemetery of Margraten so we paid a visit. The rows and rows of white crossed under bright red and yellow fall colors, were touching. To read the names of thousands of young American boys, who came from so far to help liberate a country they didn’t know…. It is a humbling and touching experience. Especially now that thousands of refugees are arriving in the country, many of them escaping war. When will we ever learn?

1 comment:

  1. Just caught up on reading all your blogs. What an amazing trip you are having to so many places. I never know where you will pop up next. The whole year has been an incredible adventure of sights and sounds. Would love to catch up over a coffee and hear your stories when you get back. Keep enjoying the moments...