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by Susan Kramer
Because the winter holiday from school was for two weeks, the twins' parents planned to drive from North Holland to Maastricht in the south, the city of Anneke and Hans' birth. The twins enjoyed packing both day packs for walking and duffle bags for the rest. Most of all the twins thought they'd enjoy seeing the scenery on the way down and back.
They were in for a big surprise because to drive to Maastricht in the southern tip of the country they needed to cross the Rhine river which ran east to west crossing the German border east of Nijmegen, emptying into the North Sea in the west.
As they approached the Rhine the twins noticed the road sloped up to cross a very tall dike known as the winter dike, which was 6 meters higher than the land on either side of it. Pedestrians could cross the tall dike using staircases.
Then they crossed a flood plain, about half a mile wide of mostly pasture lands for grazing cows in summer. And finally they spotted the summer dike which was about 3 meters high and ran parallel right next to the river Rhine.
Ma told the twins that when the Rhine became gorged with water from melting snows and storms in Germany and further east in Europe, the Dutch sacrificed land about half a mile wide all along the Rhine to become a temporary river extension. This was to save the villages, built on the far side of the winter dikes, from flooding. This double dike and village placement strategy had been developed after trial and error over hundreds of years.
After driving south for half a day the family came to their rented vacation cottage just outside Maastricht which was built alongside the river Maas. After that first day of traveling, the little family drove into town for a supper of French onion soup, and baguettes with ham, cheese, cucumber and tomato slices. Making their way back to the cabin they settled in for the evening and over coffee and hot cocoa, they talked about some of the sights on the trip south.
Ma, Pa and the twins appreciated that so much planning and sacrifice had combined to devise a workable plan for flood control in The Netherlands. It seemed that giving up pasture land to a winter flood plain was worth saving people from being left homeless or killed when the river overflowed its banks.
Sometimes what seems like a sacrifice at the time, like giving up pasture land, pays off with good results in the future, such as saving lives and housing.
children in this story live in my mind and heart.
The author, Susan Helene Kramer, has been teaching people of all ages and abilities meditation, yoga and dance for more than 30 years.
and Hans went to school
Anneke and Hans See the Winter and Summer Dikes copyright © 2018 Susan Helene Kramer
of photograph of river Maas in Maastricht by Stan Schaap
Home Page http://www.susankramer.com
Dutch translation of other stories in the series | webmaster
Link to a photo of a winter
dike from the Volkskrant online newspaper: https://verhalen.volkskrant.nl/hoog-water#13519