I’ve traveled to the Netherlands several times over the years. My most recent trip was, unfortunately, way back in 1991. One of the most fascinating things about this country — besides its legendary tolerance, beautiful architecture, art, etc. — is that it continues to grow. I’m not talking about population, I’m talking about land mass. The Dutch routinely reclaim land from the North Sea. These reclaimed areas are known a polders:
No other nation has been so successful in reclaiming land from water than the Dutch. Nonetheless, all children fret when the advancing seawater threatens to destroy their handsome sandcastles. Dams appear to offer a solution, but the channels immediately fill up again. In the age-old battle against water the Dutch have discovered how to keep the land dry.
The Dutch have been building Polders for centuries:
In 1986, the Netherlands proclaimed the new 12th province of Flevoland but they didn’t carve out the province from already existing land nor did they annex the territory of their neighbors – Germany and Belgium. The Netherlands actually grew.
The Dutch and their ancestors have been working to hold back and reclaim land from the North Sea for over 2000 years. Over 2000 years ago, the Frisians who first settled the Netherlands began to build terpen, the first dykes to hold back the water.
In 1287 the terpen and dykes that held back the North Sea failed, and water flooded the country. A new bay, called Zuiderzee (South Sea) was created over former farmland. For the next few centuries, the Dutch worked to slowly push back the water of the Zuiderzee, building dykes and creating polders (the term used to described any piece of land reclaimed from water). Once dykes are built, canals and pumps are used to drain the land and to keep it dry. From the 1200s, windmills had been used to pump excess water off the fertile soil; today most of the windmills have been replaced with electricity- and diesel-driven pumps.
When I heard that blithering idiot, Hastert, suggest abandoning one of this country’s most culturally important cities, I immediately thought that our current leadership couldn’t properly govern a 7-11, let alone this great nation.
I also thought of the Dutch, and how they don’t let a little thing like the North Sea get in their way:
Surely we Americans have the mettle to reclaim New Orleans from the relatively pond-like (most of the time) Gulf of Mexico — especially if we can get our Dutch friends to lend a hand.
And let’s tell Hastert to put a sock in it.