was about 4 or 5 times up to the North Sea Islands off the coast of Germany and the Netherlands, always on different islands like Helgoland or Husum or Sylt, etc. Once, when my kids were very small — the smallest just a baby, the car full of pampers and milk bottles and my 3-year-old’s plastic ducks for the water and sand-tools, etc — we got all the way up to Hamburg and got stuck in a traffic jam. (It’s about an 11-hour drive from our home. Quite a thing with these small kids!)
We had rented an apartment just behind the dunes where we stayed up under the roof and could see over the dunes to the sea and the sheep and out on the horizon the big ships passing by. Somewhere out in the country — not at the rich-and-expensive place.
The night was dark by the time we got out of Hamburg and we drove through all this lonely-looking land up and down the streets — nobody around except sleeping sheep, the long light-stream of the car just showing a part of this unknown landscape. It even had fog that surrounded us close, so we could not see well.
This is the land, too, of mystery stories and ghost-legends: people coming out of the sea and old ghost-captains searching for their lost ships or their lost love….. (STORM and FONTANA are the famous old writers there.)
Finally we got fed up and decided– enough searching! We heard the sea rolling nearby– it was too much unsureness in the dark night of land under water ( the baby crying and the 3-year-old being tired). We just got on the next best field we could find and parked the car there and slept in the car as we were. It was a good nap…
The morning came up slowly and grey, and with lots of strange sounds like: quaiick, qiack, urrk, urk… That and the sound of feathers rustling up and down woke us up. We looked out of the car windows and thought we were again in the fog. We sat in the middle of hundreds of seagulls sitting on the field (truly, no joke) cleaning their feathers and waking up. It was as though it had snowed around us. They looked at us as strange as we looked at them, but they did not fly away. They may have thought our car was a new kind of bigger seagull…
And just in front of us, but farther out, (the tide– that’s why we heard at night the waves but didn’t hear them now) the border to the rolling black-grey sea. A little farther along the coast there was a lighthouse
on a cliff and a big house with this thatched-roof, cosy and well-protected by it.
We shook ourselves awake and then drove to the house, my young son looking out with big eyes to these birds and this new kind of world. The house had a beautiful wide restaurant, with big glass windows just lying over the sea. We took a big breakfast (as the northern breakfasts are: eggs and dark and white bread, jam, bacon and tartes. Big cups of milk-coffee).
The sea was out– no water– the tide here is very strong, bringing a big difference in water heights every 6 hours or so. That’s why the storms here are so dangerous, when the sea goes high and the tide is in. It looks then like a big, big cup of white mixed-up dark green water swirling just to the upper end of the cup– going nearly over– and down there the land waiting until the bad time goes by once more.
We looked at the early-morning people barefoot in the mud wandering around in the Slick (so they call the land when the sea is out) with their yellow plastic raincoats (called there: THE FRIESEN-Zobel, a jokeword: the land is also called FRIESLAND). Very very far away you saw, like tiny toys, passing big ships going out to new coasts, far away ports like Laurenco Marques or New York (there the Statue of Freedom overlooks the entrance of the Port, waiting and waving– come here to my land you are welcome) …or Rio, wherever…
In winter when the sea-coasts are iced with thin ice, or in summer on the border of water and sand where it’s wet, they make a neat sport: ice- or sand-gliding. It’s a kind of sailing-boat, very thin and quite long, with a sail and one man sitting on the glider– and with 100 km speed. Very very fast, they slide along the beach on these vehicles. It looks very elegant and cool.
My 3-year-old son was on a big pond behind the coast with his father and let his plastic duck run on a very very long string of a kite over the pond. Kite flying is a most popular sport at this coast (there are championships!). There were real ducks swimming around with baby ducks paddling behind the parents, and suddenly one of these baby ducks got caught in the kite-string. They had to pull it back to themselves to get its feet out of the string; what a mess in the duck family! They were very upset and the baby duck screamed loudly and then, free, swam out paddling quickly like a little helicopter. Happy duck-reunion afterwards and quick swimming out of sight.
Of this land I could tell you many stories. But you must come here yourself and make your own stories!
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