The polders - land created out of sea - are without a doubt great achievements of the people of the Netherlands, but having loved and worked in the south of my proud country, the polder could not compare to the people, the traditions and environment of Limburg, where I worked and lived and found peace.
However, feeling unable to return there without hurting my parents who considered my like of boarding with a divorcee and omitting to attend a church, so against their way of life that they never could not would understand how free and happy I was there.
Since nothing of value was urging me to stay in the new but bare and inhospitable new land I decided to emigrate to Canada. I hadn't seen Anne much, but heard from her brother, who was friends with my brothers, that Anne was having a boyfriend. My brothers were quite enthusiastic about the guy who drove a Yamaha motorbike. 'A Yamaha eh?' Ya, Anne like driving in the rear seat behind him. Well, good for her, no worry about her then. I hadn't seen her for some time, and was not sorry about it neither. I was not forgotten my humiliating bike ride in the snow. So, let her have fun on a Yamaha.
And then, there she was. Wow!
She wore a white summer dress with soft green polka dots, topped by a same green bolero with white polka dots loosely over it.
It was a beautiful summer day when I, purely by accident, caught up with Anne in the fake little man-made Kraggenburg forest. She was off her bike and watching something intently. I stopped beside her, out bikes forming a barrier between us.
'What are you looking at?' I asked. 'Rabbits.' she said. And just then two little rabbits in no apparent rush, hopped by. We watched the frolicking rabbits for awhile not knowing what to say and just when I really noticed that she was not at all a bad looking young woman with a very healthy tan, she took her bike saying she had to go, and off she went.
Sometimes, you can't loose for winning. You never know where help comes from. Anne's brother dropped by and, seeing me, causually mentioned that his sister was calling it quits with her boyfriend. 'If you're interested,' he said, 'today's your day. Her boyfriend is drafted into the army which means he can spend only one weekend seeing her in two months. She takes him to the 4 o'clock bus this afternoon.
I couldn't' believe my ears, was he instructed by his sister to tell me she was available? I biked as fast as I could to the next village over and waited for her in a coffee shop conveniently close to the bus stop. And there they were, he was pushing a normal bike and not the Yamaha, which he wasn't aloud to drive since it was Sunday. His right arm was around her middle. The bus driver was already on top of the bus to receive the bike. Before the boyfriend handed his bike up, they kissed. A farewell kiss? What if this was set up by my brothers? But as soon as the bus with my competitor took off I interceptor Anne, who didn't seem much surprised, and walked beside her, my left arm on the bike and the right arm around Anne.
We walked that way until we found the narrow path along the canal out of the village. The berm to the water was overgrown with reeds, which here and there were flatted out by young couples seeking privacy. Anne was seventeen and I was twenty-one and we talked easy as if we had been together for yarns, about things older people talk about, like how many children we should have. Then Anne asked when I was going to Canada and I said, 'in a month.' And I asked, 'Anne, will you wait two years for me?' And she said 'YES.'
It was dark when I took Anne home. Her father had locked the doors and windows, except the bathroom window. That is where Anne crawled through. It was the her first time, I thought.