By Lisa Van de Ven, The United Church Observer
It’s a brisk, breezy day and the view is green and flat long into the horizon. Trees line the roadway while farmers sow their fields beyond. I watch as I drive by, but it’s not farmers I’m looking for. I’m travelling along the rural roads of Flevoland, the Netherland’s youngest province. It wasn’t officially formed until 1986, created on land that used to be below the sea. But I’m not here for that either. Not today. Today, I’m chasing windmills.
This is Holland, after all, where windmills aren’t that hard to find. The Dutch may not have invented them, but the technology has thrived here, becoming a cultural icon. In Amsterdam, they’re on magnets and shaped into piggy banks, surrounded by wooden shoes and orange football jerseys — ready for tourists looking to part with a few Euros. Through the countryside, they beckon too, their squat brick buildings and rotating blades a much-recognized part of Holland’s landscape, grinding corn and wheat or draining water from the lowlands long before Flevoland was created.
The young province has become known for windmills of a different kind, though. I see them dotting fields and coastlines long before I hear them: looming storeys high, like soldiers standing in formation, their stems straight and narrow, sleek blades spinning with the wind. Getting closer, I watch their shadows flicker rhythmically over the car I’ve rented. The sound is clear: a slow beat in this quiet pastoral setting.
These are Holland’s wind turbines. They speckle the landscape here — not just in Flevoland, but also across the country. They’re not like the windmills, though. You won’t find them on souvenirs or postcards, and it’s the rare tourist who will come and take a look. But they’re likewise a symbol: not of the Netherlands’ past, but of its commitment to the future. That doesn’t mean people like them. Read article