If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


20 AUG 2017

DELFT - This trip to the Rhine is our last of the summer season. I write 'summer' because it is August; otherwise, one would not guess that from the weather. As a guest in Holland, I try hard not to comment on how cold, rainy and unpleasant conditions are. If the Dutch take it in stride, I am happy to do so as well, and I am forgiven for dressing warmly.

About the devil, I admit my beliefs do not include such a deceitful, bad-intentioned fellow. On the other hand, fairy tales, sagas and learned men insist he exists. OK. I can see how handy he is: crops fail? Its the devil's work. Your BBQ rains out? Again, the devil. The one we saw at a garden park is a short guy, bald, and his tail appears to have dropped off. Or maybe that is the snake from the Garden of Eden.

Wait and See

"We were at Rijnoever camp this last week. It was the middle of August but that was only true on a calendar. It did not rain every day all day. The temperature was not at all too hot. Actually, it was chilly. Still, away is away. And we found where the devil sits on a high stool, waiting for us to stumble. He is in the Lage Oorsprong / Low Origins gardens, near Oosterbeek. His sign reads: 'The Devil Has Only to Wait and See'."


What garden is complete without a devil. The one we came on was poised with legs crossed with modesty, his right arm resting on his left knee. He is comfortable, thank you very much, and his expression is patient and focussed. He is looking right at anyone who pauses on their way to the green house. It is as if to say 'yes - you'.

In keeping with its subject, the devil is not cheap. He will cost you 1,400 euro - the devil's price. On reflection, that is not much compared to your soul. Visitors move past him and to berry bushes, where for a few euros, one can buy a paper bucket and fill it with berries plucked from the rows of bushes nearby. After that, sit in the greenhouse and have a glass of apple juice, from the park's apples.

The Lage Oorsprong is a small, set-aside place that was made from an estate, now long gone. Round the turn of this century, local people decided the grounds would be a good place for a park. It is open 3 days each week.

Artists, along with those who know which end of a shovel is the working part, put several years into it. They have constructed something magical. Along the paths, there are many plaques with poetry and striking sculpture.

The poetry is placed with care among flowers and is all by one person, Sigrid van Amerongen. She writes soft verses that touch the heart lightly, with affection. The kind that makes one smile after reading it.

Sculpture is also spaced so that it rises from the beauty of what nature has given us to enjoy. A child's face peaks out from roses; a woman looks over her shoulder at the blooms behind her. Another is dreaming.

My partner translated the poetry for me as we walked through the wonders of this small place. She struggled because word for word, poetry loses the depth it has in its own language. But, I had the idea.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen