... to master the knowledge of the Netherlands, and understand the Dutch choice to live exactly here. By comparison, the London Orbital is 188 km long, and the Berliner Ring 196 kilometers. How can the Netherlands be the world’s second largest exporter in agriculture? How does one feed the world from under the sea level, out of this wet and small-scale ground? Meet the Boots and Roots family of landscapes and rethink your doubts. The youngest one is comfortably in the middle. The Flevopolder, a stone’s throw from Amsterdam, was reclaimed in the 1950's and 1960's. To the West, it snuggles up to the medieval polders, and to the East to the land as old as the ice ages. The ancient, the adolescent, and the new land, all have their idiosyncrasies, and demand a specific treatment, with water being the clue.
An immense prehistoric beach divided the Netherlands in two: the sea in the West, and the land in the East. Now, the western part is drained and its land is young, wet and low. It has changed tremendously during a period of only centuries, in landscape terms a blink of an eye. It is close to the sea; therefore has known of fierce floods, and will long remember disasters. The modeling of the western land was a process of trial and error. The West is flexible, acts fast, and bears in mind that a decisive action is the key to survival. On the opposite end of the Boots and Roots route rest the high, dry and old lands of the East. This landscape remembers what the ice ages were like. The grounds are firm, the changes slow, and the roots go deep. Here the stability is the key to success. “You are the ground you come from”, the Dutch say. In this country social identities are shaped by the speed of the landscape.
“We put in a lot of effort to make the Netherlands what it is now. You don’t abandon something so precious.” How can one disagree? The there-is-always-a-solution attitude of this nation is admirable. Landscape is important for the Dutch optimism. When making land, the process is fast. The time span from an idea to the realization is short, and the results, good or bad, follow directly. Success instantly boosts the self-confidence. The Netherlands lives in a positive spiral of growing self-esteem. Who wouldn’t? It is like winning a World Cup against the nature, over and over again, for centuries. The sunny disposition of the Dutch stretches across the country, and towers above the local differences of the wet and dry ground mindsets. One should indeed never abandon a thing that precious.
The Vecht Valley
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