Secrets of Schokland

A series of short stories about the island of Schokland by Leffert Smid Why do I put so much effort in the history of this little island Schokland, when there are histories galore waiting to be written for instance? It has to do with a dutch song I remember only parts of.


One of the reasons I scrambled through the stories about the Northeastern polder and the little former island within that polder, Schokland, is that I can't wait to get on with the sweet little tale about that young maiden who lived in that polder-land between the colourful flowering flowers and the fragrant roses of the polder-land. Before I dig myself a deeper hole than that I find myself in already, I admit there was no sluice or mill, no flowering flowers or even sweet smelling roses. The polder was as bare as a Calvinistic church pew. This happened in the winter of 1953, only eight years after arguably the bloodiest war in history, yet - yet there was a darling young woman living across the road from that little island with many secrets, an island that not many years later was deemed so important that it became famous throughout the world.

Schokland one hundred years ago, starting the plank way from one island to the other

Schokland one hundred years ago, starting the plank way from one island to the other

The second reason has to do with my father, Hendric Smid, a polder pioneer, like his brother Jan, and also of my wife Anne's father and, and thousands of one-tooled craftsman, the men with the shovels, the bats, the ground workers who really changed the mucky sea bottom only good for reeds into what it became - dry land, ready to be cultivated by men and machines in order that crops could be planted.

The creation of the new polder was a feat of engineering which never before was contemplated, therefore recognition and credit must be given to the Dutch engineers, who were wearing the same rubber boots the pioneers were wearing and were not disdainful to include the 'lower' workers, at least not in the pioneer time, recognising that it was the ground-workers putting the finishing touches on the entire operation by getting rid of the surface water through digging trenches, ditches and canals by the strength of their arms with the tool they knew how to handle - the bats. That was called the 'ontginning' the reclamation of the sea bottom.

The third reason is that there are so many surprising stories about the island of Schokland, most of them I was not aware of but others that slumbered in my mind and in my old age sprang to life again, and that from a world away.

If only I was able to master that computer, my enemy, who gives me grey hairs, if only I had them. However, my one-hundred year old friend, Klassen, born, as he said, a weakling baby in Siberia would say, 'I do what I can as long as I can.' He walks without a cane or walker, twice as fast as I do.

So give me some time, we will yet get to my dear wife Anne.

Patience -

Patience -