Windmill Wednesday

While it’s hard to beat the tulips and beautiful flowers throughout the countryside in the Netherlands, the windmills come in a close second. And of course, biking to a windmill was always a great excuse for a picture taking break.

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Last weekend was National Mill Day in the Netherlands, an annual event held on the second weekend of May. Nine hundred fifty windmills and watermills opened their doors so visitors could get a close up look at these iconic symbols of Holland.

For centuries, mills have played an important role in reclaiming land in the country pumping water out of lowlands to rivers so the land could be used for farming.  They also were used to process raw materials and manufacture products. image

Today you can see modern windmills used for harvesting wind energy next to the centuries old mills the country is famous for.

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We learned that the positioning of the stopped arms were used by millers to send messages. One position indicated the miller was away for a short time while another position let neighbors know he was away for a longer period. They also were used to announce the birth of a child or a death in the family.

Near Amsterdam, the Molen van Sloten is a poldermill and museum which provides guided tours with explanations of how the windmill moves thousands of gallons of water per minute. We were lucky enough to be there when the mill’s arms were moving.

Tulips may take top billing, but the countryside dotted with windmills like those seen in the paintings of Rembrandt are pretty spectacular.

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