We had another long overnight sail via canal to the Ijsselmeer. This is a lake formed when a branch of the North Sea called the Zuiderzee was closed in by a dam. They did this because Amsterdam was getting flooded. When the water became stable and fresh they started making polders which made the lake smaller. Finally the people said that was enough! Now they have a smaller lake but more land to farm. The Dutch are pretty amazing!
The town we sailed to is called Enkhuizen. Again we were not there to visit the town, but to learn more about tulip growing. In the morning we had a lecture on the history of the tulip. It first appeared in the wild in the Far East and Caucasus Mountains in the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1540 the Turkish sultan developed a strong interest in the plant. It started to appear as a decoration on ceramics, embroidered on clothing, and even in the shape of the Sultan’s turban. The plant came to the attention of a Dutch horticulturist who started to study them for their medicinal value. He brought them to Holland and they were stolen and ended up being propagated in Harlem. For some reason speculation in bulbs was started and fortunes were spent on acquiring them. The bubble lasted from 1634 to 1637 before the whole thing burst and fortunes were lost.
However, the tulip is still big business in Holland. We visited a bulb growing farm and learned all about the propagation of the tulip. The bulbs are planted in the fall and the flowers come up in April. When they bloom they are beheaded so that all the energy will go back into the bulb. Then the bulbs are dug up and processed and sent to another grower who raises them in a green house for their flowers. So, it is basically a two year cycle. Baby bulbs from the first growth can be used to continue the cycle. Everything was mechanized, computerized, and very methodical. The main pleasure for us was to see the beauty of the fields with their colorful, straight rows of flowers.
|Don and Suzanne at the bulb growing farm|
In the afternoon we visited a typical Dutch family – who it turned out was just like us and probably had spent more time traveling in the US than we have! People all over the world are the same – she was a social worker, her husband owned a roofing company, there were 2 teen age daughters, they lived in a 2 story modern duplex on one of the canals and they grew some of their own food.