Ceterum censeo Afsluitdijk esse delendam. The Latin for 'Furthermore, I believe the Afsluitdijk [causeway between the provinces of North Holland and Friesland] should be destroyed'. Two weeks ago I noted that the natural vegetation for the Oostvaardersplassen consisted of sea grasses, seaweed and mussels.
I am currently reading the Verkade album Langs de Zuiderzee [along the Zuiderzee] by Jac.P. Thijsse and am enjoying the wonderful illustrations by L.W.R. Wenckebach, Jan Voerman Jr. and Edzard Koning. Thijsse was able to convey the atmosphere and charm of this former inland sea better than anyone else. The album dates from 1914, eighteen years before the final gap in the Afsluitdijk was closed on 28 May at 1:02 pm. What happened to the proud island inhabitants of Urk, Marken and Schokland? What has become of all those fishing villages and harbour towns, Medemblik, Enkhuizen, Muiderberg, Harderwijk and Vollenhoven?
I would love to sit next to Jac.P. Thijsse on the Oude Mirdumer Klif, that remarkable red 'steep, upright wall' on the south coast of Friesland with 'the sea crashing on the banks', with 'dozens of sand martins flying out and back' and 'the most beautiful, large blue sea hollies at your feet'. I close my eyes. The sea eagle has had to go, despite its name, but we did get true beauty in its place. I can smell the sea salt. And at least we no longer need to debate whether the deer, horses and cattle in the Oostvaardersplassen need to be left to die, given extra food or shot.