The last few days of January seem to be such a misery. It is bitterly cold, annoyingly wet and depressingly dark outside.
Another birthday has passed by my window. After the excitement of birthday presents burned out like candles on a birthday cake, a plus-one in my age is all that was left behind.
Consciously I retraced my twenty-eight’s footsteps. What have I done that are worth counting for the never-to-return time? There were a few.
I came home, and got myself an exciting job. I was absorbed.
I was there to hold my nephew when he was a few hour old. I felt my family’s hope rising in his cries. Like most babies, he cried quite a bit. We did not even mind that much.
For the first time in 10 years, I was in the same city with my best friend for a period longer than a holiday. We went to have junk food talking about our life battles. We were not drama queens. We just sought differences in life. We went clothes shopping giggling like teenagers again. We visited places.
But I could have seen her more often. I could have visited more old friends with whom I had lost regular contact for three years or more. Many of them have kids now. I didn’t go to see the little ones either. Sadly, there seemed to be a lot that I didn’t do. And the time has passed.
When regrets conquer, vulnerability creeps in. Outside, it is still dark, wet and cold. Yet the worst is to come in February. At the end of each day, I hurriedly tug my feet under a thick blanket, wait patiently. I still work, run, crochet, cook, learn and love. But I am desperately long for spring to come.
We were on the road again, driving along a winding path of Windermere.
It was the end of December, but the valley bellow was covered partly with autumn colours. The relic reddish yellow stood out under the sparkling light from low winter sun.
“Have nature forgotten its cycle or am I lost in an in-between world?”
Here and there in the vast valley, some idle sheep were chewing away the cold wind. I wondered how their Christmas was like. Quite different to mine I guessed.
My feet tapped on the car floor when he started to play Led Zappelin. On one side, high mountain range stood as ancient as always. On the other, one after another quaint hotels welcomed mountain climbers and country trekkers. My feet kept tapping to the music. He held a big smile.
The romance of a place like Windermere could well be hiding beneath those mountain tops or floating on the tranquil lake. It depends on what you came looking for. My little romance was kept in a small black box when he asked me to marry him. I grinned at the winter sun setting its sparkle on my ring finger. It was beautiful.
And again, we are on the road.
Amongst the Netherlands’ famous icons stands the thousand of windmills. For centuries, windmills have been used to drain water and keep land dry. As about 20% of Dutch land locates below sea level, and another 50% lies less than one metre above the line, those windmills – known as polder mills – had once made it possible for the Dutch to conquer their land and even reclaim from the sea. Until now, the most famous Dutch mills are nineteen polder mills in Kinderdijk. This UNESCO site is impressive by its creative form of water management, and picturesque by sight.
Windmills convert the energy of wind into rotational energy by using sails or blades. Originally, generated energy was used for grinding grain in food production. Over the course of time, windmills’ structure and mechanism have become more and more sophisticated and their usages varies from generating electricity to pumping water and many more.
Industrial windmills cluster in farm, grow higher and larger. Schiedam of South West Netherlands is home to five largest windmills in the world. They are up to 40 metres high and used to make jenever (Dutch gin). In Zaanse Schans (just north of Amsterdam), some hundreds of mills formed the first industrial site in the world, making a variety of products from paints, mustard, oil to paper. Today, they remain as a part of history telling stories of blowing wind.