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Anneke and Hans See the Winter and Summer Dikes – by Susan Helene Kramer

A bridge over a river

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Because the winter holiday from school was for two weeks, Ma and Pa planned to drive the family from North Holland to Maastricht in the south, the city of the twin’s birth. Anneke and Hans enjoyed packing both day packs for walking and duffle bags for the night. 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 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 cabin 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 layered 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 pastureland 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 pastureland, pays off with good results in the future, such as saving lives and housing.


More Anneke and Hans Ebooks and Books:


Excerpted from Anneke and Hans in 30 Short Stories from North Holland  

Anneke and Hans – 30 Short Stories from North Holland

A book cover with a picture of a fox lying in the water

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Anneke and Hans Meditation and Spiritual Stories as a 28 page ebook

Description: Anneke and Hans Meditation Stories by Susan Kramer

Anneke and Hans went to school
But what they learned after
Was more than school rules.
The birds, grass, trees
, and waters flowing
Held lessons that helped them along
While growing.



Anneke and Hans See the Winter and Summer Dikes and illustration copyright © 2017-2024 Susan Helene Kramer
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The author, Susan Helene Kramer, has been teaching people of all ages and abilities meditation, yoga, and dance for more than 30 years.

Dutch translation of meditation stories in the series