Dutch friends, Dick S. and Sandra D., offered Patrice and me their country house in Middelharnis. It was a ‘two birds with one stone’ opportunity. We had finished our move from the apartment in Semur-en-Auxios to the farmhouse in Chevigny thus we could count as a ‘well-deserved’ vacation plus I would use an enforced country stay (no car) to finish my fifth (and final!!!) novel in my “Long War’ series.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Avenue_at_Middelharnis The Avenue at Middelharnis is a Dutch Golden Age painting of 1689 by Meindert Hobbema. It shows a road leading to the village of Middelharnis on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee in the Maas delta in South Holland, the Netherlands.

This winter in southeastern France has been mostly overcast and rainy, and the Netherlands were even more. It has been the rare day we’ve seen the sun and have had to content ourselves with a random ten-minute peak. The Netherlands faces the North Sea; it was even more so, overcast, the rain alternating between mist and driving storms. That was the good news.

 In a small and remote Dutch town on the poulders, I finished the novel. I looked up from the keyboard, saw the flat countryside, water, waterworks, canals, vast hydrologic engineering projects (The Delta Works) and one extremely bored and house-bound Patrice Antoinette Naparstek.

We had three days remaining. Dick joined us and drove us back to Amsterdam. Boy, one can get to like Amsterdam!  We fell in love with the city, the countryside, and the country.  These Dutch are industrious and orderly folk.

 Now, we in Lincoln County, Wisconsin grew up with families with names like Vandersanden, Vandervelde, Van Ert, Van Slate, Vanderheiden, Vandergeest, etc (a bunch of’em) and they seemed just normal folk.  The Wooden Shoes didn’t sit on their hands in Gleason nor did they in the old country.

One-room rural Wisconsin school

So, in summary, if summarize I must, We will revisit The Netherlands.  In 1953 a high tide combined with violent North Sea storm breached the dikes, flooded the land and drowned around 1800 people. The preservationists were in disarray.  The Dutch water engineers committed themselves to ‘fix things’ and ‘Voila’ the Delta Works Project.   If hydrological engineering  interests you, click on the link.  The Dutch engineers never stop thinking. Check out this crazy Northern European Enclosure Dam [https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/bams/101/7/BAMS-D-19-0145.1.xml ].

Under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, all the Jews of Middelharnis – with the exception of a few who had managed to go into hiding – were deported and murdered. The largest round-up and deportation occurred early in November of 1942.