Clogs and braids and tulips, oh my! Kate thought to herself as they drove the still farther West and North after the first night and leisurely morning with Peg. Their destination? Holland! (Michigan.) There, they planned to spend the night with some friends and their two kids. The Zinks were some of their dearest, competitive game playing, non-city people that they had made friends with in D.C. Kate both rejoiced and mourned their move to Michigan last November--rejoiced because, like Kate and Mister, Lize and A.Z. longed to escape the hubbub of city life; mourned it because in the short-term, Kate missed their company and in the even shorter term, she missed Lize's maternity clothes, which she had returned a mere month before finding out she was pregnant again!
Kate always loved sharing new places with friends, and she was especially interested in how Lize and A.Z. were liking their new home, what their town was like, and seeing all their familiar things in a different house. And they did play games--the token favorite being a lesser-known strategic card game called Innovation. After the kids went to bed, the couples broke up into guys and girls teams and snacked on the kids' potty-training candy. They wielded their cards with vigor, the random directives on each card somehow taking on an unwarranted significance, making "I demand you transfer a top card with a picture of a castle to my score pile!" sound something more like, "Give me all your money, your credit cards, and your oldest child!" The girls managed to lose the first game with relative good grace, though they demanded a re-play...which they also lost. But they took comfort that their money, credit cards, and children were all safe, and that the following day would provide ample opportunity for retribution! The following day also brought the annual Tulip Festival Parade.
But Kate was particularly curious to see what such a town as Holland would be like, especially during their special town festival. Would she actually get to see her wooden clogs and blonde braids and tulips? Yes, indeed. The families of Holland trotted out their clogs and braids just for the festival. The Miller Crew accompanied Lize and her two kids to the main thoroughfare well before the parade, where they were able to witness charming (but probably not authentically Dutch) dancing in the streets. And yet, however inauthentic or authentic it really was, the simple fact that people dressed up and danced in the streets was fun and special. Kate grinned as she watched. Just add a spontaneous song and you'd have a scene out of a musical! she thought. They stayed for the ritual street sweeping--a slow parade complete with buckets and brushes (many even being used!) and innumerable modern strollers.
The real surprise and delight of the Tulip Festival wasn't even special to the festival. Down by the waterfront, a huge park held thousands and thousands of tulips. There were tulips planted in squares along the main street, but here, row upon row and field upon field of tulip varieties greeted them as they walked across the street. This was the delight: the vibrant colors, the vast variety of kind: short and tall, frilly, fuzzy, and smooth. The surprise was Mister's response to the tulips. Kate had never seen him get positively excited about flowers before.
"Here," he said to Kate, handing her his camera, "Can you take pictures?"
"The tulips! All of them!"
He justified his enthusiasm with a story, "Did you know," he asked Kate and Lize, "that the tulip market in Holland made one of the first bubbles in market history?" Kate laughed, relieved to know that her husband hadn't simply and suddenly gone bonkers for tulips. Mister continued, "At one point, there were people that would trade a house for only three tulip bulbs!"
"Seriously?" The thought was inconceivable. "What happened?"
"One day at an auction, the bubble just popped. No one would pay for the most expensive kind, and everything suddenly fell apart."
The time at the Tulip Festival was fun, but exhausting. By the time they got back, the kids were cranky and Kate's back hurt. But Kate and Mister tried to pack up quickly to leave time for one last round of Innovation. (This time, the girls were victorious!) Their visit was short, but full of everything that they were hoping for in their visits across the country: good food, shared life, and valuable conversation considering family, children, and living as a committed Christian in modern America. As they drove away, Kate and Mister agreed. The Zinks were comfortable and heartfelt friends and they wished they could have stayed so much longer.