CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

September 30, 2008

IT WAS MEANT TO BE: A Meeting with Travelers from the Netherlands


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

IT WAS MEANT TO BE

A Meeting with Travelers from the Netherlands

 

     The weather was perfect for driving over and through the white mountains of New Hampshire, although the downhill drives were intimidating with their S- and hair-pin curves on step grades, and their signs “moose…. 40 miles per hour.” The leaves in many patches were at their peak, and we laughed about being among the early “leaf-peepers” in New England.

     The views were so fantastic that we frequently stopped at scenic overlooks. My husband, Monte, noted that, although most of the mountaintops were in clear view, the top of Mt. Washington, noted for foggy heights, was enshrouded in a cloud. We stopped at a pull-off to admire the view and to add to our photography record.

     I crossed the road, snapped the camera, and returned to the car, watching as a white van pulled up behind our car. Several persons had already exited the van as I reached our car, and I smiled at the one holding a camera, saying, “It’s a great day for photography.”

     He smiled and asked me if I knew the motto for the state of Pennsylvania. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t pull up this piece of trivia, which I should know (later my daughter told me Pennsylvania’s motto is “The Keystone State.”)

     “It’s written on the license plate of some states,” he noted, pointing to the plate on the van he was driving (I forget the state and the motto).

     Noting his obvious accent and friendly nature, I asked him where he was from.

     “The Netherlands,” was his response, which caught my attention. I had just been reading some of my research materials to Monte before we stopped, and two of the historic persons we were discussing were the first Dutch ambassadors to the United States (1780s-1790s). In addition, one of my references is written in the Netherlands language by an author from the said country. I’d been unable to access a copy through interlibrary loans, but had I obtained this reference, it would have been useless, since I know no one who reads the Dutch language.

     Now, here before me, were six natives of the Netherlands: three generations of the same family. We introduced ourselves to each other—the men were father Frans and son Rien. Monte and I each became involved in conversation with different members of the family, gleaning different information, which we shared when we returned to our travels.

     The group had traveled to the United States by way of Iceland, arriving in Boston on September 11. They were continuing their travels for another week. Some of the places they had already visited were Philadelphia and Cape Cod, and they some of the places they expected to visit were in Canada.

     While Monte crossed the road with Frans, I asked Rien if he was familiar with the Van Berckles, the ambassadors referred to above, and pulled the papers out from the car to show them the names in written format (my pronunciation might not be accurate—it usually isn’t).  They weren’t too familiar with the names. I also told him about the reference book, telling him of my difficulties in researching this man. He said his father would be willing to look up some information on the ambassadors.

     Meanwhile, Monte and Frans returned. Frans asked me if I knew which was the first country to recognize the United State’s independence following the American Revolutionary War.

     “It was the Netherlands,” he stated.

     Meanwhile, I located my business cards, and, after writing the name of the original Dutch ambassadors on the back of one, gave several to Rien. He stuck one in his father’s pocket, and proceeded to write his name and E-mail address in my notebook. They said they would research some information and send it to me, and that I should E-mail them the title of my Netherlands reference. All they wanted in return was a list of the state mottos and a copy of the completed book.

     As we left, the elder of the women stated several times, “This meeting was meant to be.” I have to concur—had we not been so delayed the day before, had it not become dark the night before that we hadn’t proceeded on to the destination Monte had hoped for, we would never have had this encounter. Monte and I left, feeling confident that one of them would seek out information on the Van Berckels and send it to me.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:  

WHAT ARE THOSE NUMBERS IN MY CAMERA VIEWFINDER?

PLEASE GIVE THAT MAN A QUARTER! 

 

AFTER THE SCOTTISH GAMES AT LIGONIER

LEGS UP 

THE REMINDER 

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 1 

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2

THUNDER MOUNTAIN LENAPE NATION POWWOW

FERAL BIRDS: THE LATEST COMMUNITY HAZARD

OF FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS

BLACK FLIES AND OTHER INSECTS: Then and Now

WATCHING CORN GROW

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1 Comment »

  1. Often when you meet someone for a short time, if they offer to do something for you, you do not really expect them to follow through. When Monte and I met this family, we sensed that they would, when they returned home, try to find information ib the Van Berckles. We weren’t disappointed. Unfortunately, information on the first two Netherlands Ambassadors to the United States is scarce, but I’ve received two Emails with web sites, one leading to a church in British Guiana, where the younger Van Berckle spent the last part of his life. Thank you, Rien, i do so much appreciate your efforts!

    Comment by carolyncholland — October 24, 2008 @ 2:07 am | Reply


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