Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wilhelmina Enjoys The Dutch Flowers

       Some people have a very strange idea, when you speak to them about a Dutch doll, and think that we are all made of wood, with thin arms and legs that work upon wooden pegs, and that our heads are nearly round, with black painted hair and eyebrows, with a dab of vivid carmine upon each cheek. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dutch dollies - real Dutch dollies, that is - are quite as varied and beautiful as those of any other country, and our little mistresses certainly take quite as much care of us, and spend even more time in dressing and playing with us than English girls do.
       Of course, my name is Wilhelmina, one of the best names for a loyal Dutch girl, and I live a very happy life in my lowland home where everything is kept so neat and clean, and where, especially in the spring months of the year, there is so much vivid color and beauty to be seen. But before I tell you anything at all about my country or its beauties, let me tell you how I am dressed, and what I look like. My face is more "square" and flat than your English dolly, but really there is not much difference in us, for my eyes are blue and my hair very fair, and I am made of " biscuit " china, so that my whole expression is very live and vivacious.
       My clothes are far more bulky than yours; it is not at all Dutch to look slim, so that I wear quantities and quantities of petticoats, which give me my plump appearance. On my head I wear the Dutch bonnet or cap, made of white muslin, fitting tightly to my head, but which has also two side wings that stand out on either side of my face and are stiffly starched. My bodice is tight, but the sleeves only reach to the elbow, and under this is a chemisette of white, embroidered in color, and round my neck a string of coral beads. As I told you, my skirt is very full, and over it I have an apron without a bib.
       Of course, my feet are shod with clogs; everywhere you go in Holland you will hear the clitter-clatter of clogs over the cobbled streets, and my own feet are no exception to the rule. Can you picture at all the kind of home in which we live, I wonder, and the life we live? Betje - that is the name of my little mistress - is the daughter of a bulb farmer, and our house is long and low with a bright red roof, and adjoining it is a large storehouse where dozens of men and girls are always at work, sorting and cleaning and packing the bulbs that are sent all over the world to beautify the spring garden. Everywhere you can see the windmills, which are always at work, pumping and pumping to keep the land dry.
       I have not been played with much lately, for Betje has been ill, but now she is better and sitting up in her bed again, and the first thing she asked for was me. She cannot sit up for long together yet, and so she has propped me up at her feet so that I can see out of the window and tell her all that is happening outside. And what do I see? A wide stretch of perfectly flat country, spreading for miles and miles as far as ever I can imagine; but this, of course, is no interest to Betje, she wants to hear about the things near to home.
      First, there is the canal that comes almost up to the house door at the side. This is a very curious canal, for so much of our land is below the level of the sea that our canals are higher than the land through which they run, and therefore the banks are mounded up higher than the fields through which they flow.
       "Yes, Betje ! There is quite a large ship just outside, and Johann is leaning over the side, talking to the sailor-men who are idling about on the deck. The mate is leaning against the mast, and has a broad smile upon his face at some remark Johann has made." And now I look out across the fields and the stables, where Pieter is sanding the floor for the horses and cattle. What a sea of color! The last of the daffodils are still filling their squares with primrose yellow and gold, for all the ground is set out in squares, each filled with one kind of bulb, so that the whole looks like a giant draughtboard painted in many different colors. Those squares of vivid blue, pink, red, white, and purple, are fields of hyacinths, and as the curtain fiaps with the soft wind one can smell nothing but the powerful fragrance of hundreds of thousands of the stiff spikes of flower, set in rows just like a regiment of soldiers.
       Everywhere Dutch girls and women and men are at work among the flowers, and, as I tell Betje about it all, she longs to be up and out with the rest of the world, revelling in the sun and fragrant blossom. Presently her mother comes in with a glass of milk that she must drink, and in her other hand a gorgeous bunch of the first tulips and some blue muscari. The milk is drunk, Betje lies down" comfy " again, I am put into her arms, and we both go off to sleep; so that it may not be many days ere we are both out in the air again, amongst all the other girls and boys, laughing and playing among the fields of fragrant blossom in the happy spring flower-time - a Dutch doll and a Dutch girl in a typical piece of Nederland.

"Only a half-hour away from Amsterdam, the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens is one of the most beautiful parks in the world, highlighting the famous Dutch tulips and so many pretty flowers and plants. Every area is more striking than the next and besides the outdoor gardens, there are indoor pavilions, kid's playgrounds, a windmill and boat rides through the neighboring tulip fields. This is one of our best videos yet, thanks to its amazing subject- The Keukenhof!"

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