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  • Jennifer

...Paas Pastel and Royal Red "The Fairy Tale Called Holland"

I love the U.S. Don’t get me wrong. I was born here in the '70s, grew up in a nice simple throw-back house built in the Baby Boom '50s. As a girl hailing from the little New England state of Connecticut, I attended excellent schools. And I reaped the rewards of the American Women’s Lib movement by playing the once "male only" sport of soccer. I lived near farms that produced strawberries in June and apples in September. (Mmm… I always loved warm apple pies in autumn.) I had it good. But OH! I miss the colors of Holland.

My mother moved to the U.S. from Holland when she was twenty. Since then, she took us kids back at various times throughout our childhood. When I was thirty-four, I had the chance to return with my Mom and twelve-year-old niece. We went for tulip season in April, something I hadn't seen since my first trip to Holland when I was just a sprightly blonde, pig-tailed five-year-old. (Hey, hey My Little Pony!)

The tulip fields at thirty-four were RESPLENDENT, TRANSCENDENT and possibly every other positive “endent” ending word in the dictionary. How could I have forgotten their supreme beauty? The cups of royal red and yellow tulips, sometimes mixed in with pastel pink and purple hyacinths, lined the highways like a fairy tale. And your car was like a silver knife cutting its way through a rich, luscious, sweetly decadent cake.

Then, in keeping with this sweets metaphor, the inevitable rain (as is standard fare for this maritime European climate) appeared to be exquisite drizzle of sweet condensed milk. It was a perfect topping for this nature-rich cake that gave you all and asked for nothing.

The tulips simply were their destiny. They were a majestic blanket of color, whose healthy green stems quietly swayed in the wind across perfectly flat and precisely cultivated plains and canals. Seen from an airplane window, the tulip fields below reminded you of Easter. They symbolized rebirth, rejuvenation, and that there ARE places on planet Earth that truly epitomize “cute.”

We drove around for hours one afternoon, simply taking photos of tulips. Some shots were breathtaking panoramas of pastels, lavenders and blushes that stretched and stretched to the horizon. Others were up-close-and-personal shots, where we stopped at the edge of the road, got out of our car, and kneeled next to the tulips (a la posing with our “botanical BFFs”).

My niece looked proud kneeling in her American blue jeans and white cotton top. She also donned cool white shades. Even through her sunglasses, she looked happy. She was connecting with her Dutch roots (pun intended) for the first time. She even strategically positioned herself so that the wondrous wind turbine (a modern take on an old-school windmill) would show up in the background of her photo. Good thinking, liefje (sweetheart).

Being back home in the U.S, I call it “the absence of color.” I feel guilty for thinking this. I know the U.S. is beautiful, too. But OH! Sweet Holland stays in my dreams.

This post is dedicated to my niece, Catria. She is moving away for college this week. I wish you all the best, and will never forget our trip to Holland. Daag, liefje!

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