We went out to Zaanse Schans—
a reconstructed village on the Zaan river
northwest of Amsterdam.
On the one hand, a Dutch tourist attraction
complete with windmills, cheese,
chocolate and salty licorice,
and clog making demonstrations.
With a strong element of “kitsch”—
what with the tourist shops,
and restaurants all featuring Dutch pancakes.
But, on the other hand,
the six windmills there,
even if some were moved to their current site from elsewhere
and one rebuilt as recently as 2007—
the six windmills there
represent the more than 1000 that once worked along the Zaan.
And these six still drive industrial saw mills,
and oil mills grinding up oil-bearing nuts and seeds.
One still makes mustard
while another (actually originally built, where it still stands)
between 1646 and 1696
still grinds the raw materials to make pigments for paint.
And the cheeses were delicious,
as was the chocolate, the salty licorice,
and the Dutch pancakes as well!
And the clogs are well made.
And as reminder of a way of life
more in harmony with nature,
these days, Zaanse Schans cannot be simply dismissed
as a tourist attraction—
a reminder of what was,
but also as intriguing possibility
of what might yet be.