The inside window ledges of the homes in Northern Holland tell stories.
During my ten-day visit I saw handsome turquoise pottery, painted pitchers, tall vases with flowers, ceramic birds and farm animals, wooden ships, and tin angels displayed in the windows.
In villages on the Frisian Islands, homes with large front windows edge the sidewalks. As I pause to look closely at what’s on a window ledge, I need only lift my gaze for a look straight through three rooms. Beyond the sofa area, a wood dining table with chairs and a small kitchen in the back complete the first floor.
Often I saw all the way through the back window into a yard with a garden or a clothesline full of floating clothes.
Curious as I was, I didn’t want to gawk. I kept my glances brief. Several times I surveyed the insides of these homes and missed noticing the people in the front room. They were more cordial than you or I might be to a stranger staring in their front window.
The father reading a story to a child on the sofa raised his head, met my eyes and smiled. The woman knitting in her corner chair gave me a pleasing nod.
Day after day I learned about people in places pronounced confidently and with staccato –Enkhuizen, Hoogkarspel, Oosterblokker, Wervershoof. They like order, tidiness, and enjoy a muted palette. They love flowers with large colorful blooms, Hollyhocks and Hydrangeas.
The Dutch are very polite. Because bikes are a primary means of transportation, bike paths meld into walkways and roads differentiated only by the color of the bricks. Many, many times a bike rider’s melodic, gentle bike bell advised me I was not on a foot path as I thought, but in the middle of the bike path.
In villages everywhere I looked on window ledges, peered in homes, observed the young and old ride bikes, kite surf, maneuver boats and ships, and walk their dogs. I wondered about these people and their lives – who they were, their hopes, their dreams.
What were their stories? How did the things on the window ledges connect to them?
My window sills are bare and yours may be too. Still, we have stories. Everyone has stories.
Life is a narrative of stories. Unique stories, linked over time.
In our lives there are places where a story is about to stop before a new one has begun. That can be a confusing time.
When it’s time for a change in life – as a turning point begins and the future is unclear-that’s when you need a story the most.
Transitions without a story are hell to navigate. (more…)