The Letter Z.
My husband, Gem, immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands with his family when he was nine years old. A couple years ago we had a wonderful three week holiday there. We brought our granddaughter, A, who was nine years old at the time, with us. One day we took a day tour to the countryside to an area known as Zaanse Schans which is a fully inhabited, open-air conservation area located just a few miles north of Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans was named in 1574 when a Dutch Governor by the name Diederik Sonoy built it to prevent the Spanish troops from invasion. ‘Schans’ actually means Fortress. It is located in Zaandam, near Zaandijk in the municipality of Zaanstad in the province of North Holland.
At Zaanse Schans you get a vivid impression of the Dutch way of life in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are authentic houses, a historic shipyard, a cheese and dairy farm, an old fashioned grocery store, and above all, many windmills.
It is a place often referred to as an open-air museum because of its extraordinarily well preserved architecture and traditions.
We wandered around drinking in the beauty and peace of Zaanse Schans for several hours.
It was very interesting to see the group of people dressed-up in traditional Dutch clothing. Gem remarked that they were dressed just as his own grandparents and great-grandparents would have been. He explained this to A and she thought they looked cool, and expressed her desire to own a pair of wooden shoes.
The black and white Friesland cows were charming. They must lead an idyllic life for a cow, free to roam the countryside with an abundance of fresh, green grass. No wonder they produce such delicious cheese and creamy milk.