Read my short story inspired by the windmill at the Word Hut
Tell us something about yourself?
Well, my name is ‘De Otter,’ but you can call me Ottie for short. I was built in 1631 and was a contemporary of that upstart painter, what’s his name – Rembrandt van Rijn. I look very happy in my little orange hat, don’t I? But I’m not happy at all! All my brothers and sisters, we were twelve strong, have been moved from this canal to other places where they catch wind and can turn as happy as larry. But I’m stuck here, penned in by high rise flats that block my south westerlies! How would you like it, if you were starved of food and drink?
Um, not very much. Did you use to grind grain?
NO! I was designed to saw wood. A very clever Dutchie called Cornelis Corneliszoon invented me. I’m what they call a ‘paltrok’ mill, which means I can swivel in any direction to catch the wind. Most windmills can do this with their top parts but I turn wholesale from the base, which makes me very special. There’s only five of us left in this country!
What was the wood used for?
In the 17th century I helped saw the wood that built ships for the Dutch East India Company. Ships that sailed to the Indonesian archipelago and, ahem, relieved the natives of their spices. That’s how this country got rich! And then, after all that they just leave you to rot. Ungrateful lot.
So you’re a bit disgruntled with us humans. How do you express that, as an inanimate object?
Windmills express emotions by the position of our sails. And remember, we usually turn anti-clockwise! Here’s some little pictures to help;
Above left: rest for a short time during working period
Above right: rest for a longer period
Below left: ‘celebration’ position, with the upper sail just before the vertical
Below right:’mourning’ position, with the upper sail past the vertical
In WWII we were able to pass on messages via our sails without the invaders knowing! And of course there were wonderful things like letting the world know whether the miller’s wife had had a son or a daughter! Keep an eye out for your local windmill on 30th April, Queen’s Day. It will be in the celebration position, while I’m stuck in the prolonged rest position. Grumble, groan.
What would make you happy now, Ottie?
I would like to be moved to Uitgeest, where my creator, Corneliszoon comes from. I’m not very happy with the Amsterdam council because they scuppered that plan. According to those bigwigs there is enough wind for me to turn. Pah, what do they know! Even my kindly miller has been forced to give up on me. A windmill that never turns is doomed to rot, you know!
Can we do anything to help?
Yes, go to this website and become a member of De Otter friends group. It’s free and you never know, it might make those bureaucrats see sense! Thank you.