It’s often said, in reply to doom-laden( or sensible – depending on your life position) predictions about our future on Planet Earth, that we can and will decamp elsewhere anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Make hay while the sun shines or fiddle while Rome burns – or whatever. I reckon the Dutch are way ahead of anyone else in successfully changing their physical environment.
We are on the edge of Flevoland at the moment. An entirely man-made land. It was made by constructing dams to keep the sea out, draining the remaining body of water and then piling the earth up. Hey presto! New land! What’s more, they planted part of it with so many trees, that Hosterwold is the largest deciduous forest in Europe. And of course, it’s covered with cycle paths .
From the map, the waterway ,looks quite small. I can assure you, it isn’t. Visiting a piece of land which is about the same age as I am, is an interesting experience. Of course, designing and making part of the country ‘from scratch’ gave the planners a unique opportunity to get it right. And I think they did. Although the towns we’ve visited so far lack the cosiness (gezelligheid) of older places, they do all have a Carillon Tower, ringing out tunes every half hour or so. I think this makes people feel that they belong to the place – unites them. We have a similar ‘born within earshot of Bow Bells idea for Cockneys).
They’ve got the smell-scape right too. As well as Lime tress in all the town squares, the privet is in blossom, as well as elder trees and cycling through the forest yesterday, we were assailed by the scent of pine resin, from recently felled trees.
Another interesting feature was a hay field, running the length of the coast. If your land is rectangular, so are the fields. The hay crop extended onto the path verges in the forest.
And here’s another thing I think they’ve got right. While in the UK we’re taking funding away from libraries and expecting volunteers to take over, here in the NL, libraries are state funded, modern, large and centrally placed in the towns.
If we did send the Dutch to colonise Mars, I reckon The Earth would be worse off without them.