Last week we took our car to the repair shop. Instead of waiting there we decided to take a walk in the neighbourhood. Luckily the shop is right on the edge of town, so we could get out into nature immediately.
We ended up walking along the Grebbelinie, a defence line based on inundiation. True to Dutch nature we used to defend ourselves simply by flooding half of our land. Eat that, French or German dudes! (Also the parts of the Netherlands not behind these defence lines). Of course this defence mechanism lost most of its use the minute humans took to the air. Or at least, that’s what one would think, but it has saved us for three days during WWII.
Really, though: “Meanwhile, the Germans were aware of the line and its configuration. Before the war German spies had visited the zoo at Rhenen using its lookout tower to map the defences there.”
*blink* Not sure if I should laugh or cry.
I keep being fascinated though by how people always used their direct environment for everything they needed. I used to find the Netherlands pretty pathetic when it came to castles, defence systems, et cetera. We don’t have massive, hulking castles on mountain tops. We don’t have mountain tops to start with, which might just be the reason for that. And brick castles simply aren’t as impressive as castles made of granite, sorry, Dutch castle-builders of old. I loved anything medieval as a child (still do, really), but I focused more on what we visited in Germany than in the Netherlands.
Really though, living in an environment that basically consists of (drained) marshes and bogs means that water has always been our strong point, whether it comes to trade, food production or defence. Again, I’ve heard this said since I was a child, but it’s only the past couple of years I think I’m truly beginning to realize what that means. For some reason our landscape fascinates me more and more: the way it was before we built all our dikes, the way it changed by itself and the way we changed it. The remnants of our old vistas and the ways we’re trying to bring them back.
Back to the Grebbelinie: it led us to the Daatselaar, which has not too long ago been fixed up, so we can now enjoy this utterly useless piece of defence line in all its natural and cultural beauty.
Kim loved it. I don’t know why, but I think the scent of bunnies had something to do with it. Normally she stays quite close to us, waiting for us to do something interesting, barking at us if we’re not. She’s a real border collie: focused on the boss.
This place, though! There must have been bunnies and ducks and who knows what else, though they all seemed to have disappeared the moment we arrived on scene. There was more grass than anything else, which meant she could see enough to dare go further away from us. She basically just ran around like mad. We looked at her with a proud grin on our faces: “She’s just like a normal dog!”
After we’d nosed about the Daatselaar long enough, we decided to wander on. Some of the fields around the line have in recent years been turned back to the marshes they no doubt used to be. I love that we’re turning our landscape back in time. It’s so beautiful.
The blue shows up more in the water than the sky. Lucky for us there was a lot of water.
At one point we lost Kim because she went after a hare. I’m never sure what she intends to do when she’s off on the chase. She’s not a hunter and she wouldn’t know what to do with a dead hare besides rolling around in it. (I wish I was kidding. The scent stays for weeks, even after numerous baths and swims.) I suppose she wants to herd it, if she wants anything. But really I think the movement just triggers her chasing instincts, like when you throw a stick or when she sees the waves rolling on the shore.
In the end it did start to rain. The last five minutes we had to walk quicker and quicker to get back somewhat dry. Good timing, though. And the car was ready.