Arriving in a new place. It always strikes me how the weather statistics do not prepare me for new encounters. The land is flat, open, and then there is the major character in the play, wind. There is no escape in this landscape. Even inside, the wind plays around the house. The house, built in 1872, has beautiful windows with sturdy, functional wooden shutters on the outside. One of the shutters that I keep shut, because it is in part of the house I don’t use right now, is not secured. That was not a problem, until the wind changed direction. Sleeping right above that window, the shutter kept banging against the house, keeping me awake through the night. There is no escape.

today it is calm, time to open the shutters

There is always wind, and it changes direction, I am sure I will learn more about typical characteristics. Going through the land, I feel the wind, pushing me forward or against me. I have to become friends, this is a committed relationship. 

In whatever direction I look there is a windmill on the horizon, an old one, from the early days. No wonder with this kind of wind. Then there are the modern ones, the wind turbines, but surprisingly few, I hear myself thinking. Yet, every large farm seems to have its own. Wind, what an energetic phenomena, especially here, where it has free rein in all directions. Energy, you would think, happily taken for free.

Whereas everybody likes the old windmills, the new turbines have a less favorite reputation in the collective mind of the Dutch. Attached to their wide open views, the dominate objection to building more wind turbines is an aesthetic one, it spoils their view. Second, the blade shadows, but only if you live in the shadow range of one of them, same with sound. Then there are the birds, and of course, it is not a good idea to place these colossus in bird breeding grounds or migrations paths, but other than that, much of the land does not seem to be of interest to the bird population anyway after years of mono cropping. 

I don’t share the same sentiment. Yes they are a novel and visually dominant part of the landscape, but also necessary if we continue on our paths of energy consumption. The damage of our conventional ways, burning peat for the longest time, and only since the 1960’s, drilling for gas on a large scale, is maybe less visible, but all the more impoverishing. Peatlands are unique ecosystems, in addition, they sequester large amounts of CO2. Removing peat from our lands also has caused the land to subside. This of course is also one of the major impacts of gas exploitation, the land is sinking, and the earth is shaking us up with occasional earthquakes. Do we respond.

I get it, wind turbines sprouting up, maybe not the most romantic of views of nature. Maybe not a view that is causing a new Golden Age of painting in the Netherlands. But maybe one that we need as a daily reminder of the amounts of energy we are consuming. The bonus, it is a lot cleaner than what we have been burning.  

I am reminded daily of its power.