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Raining rainbows

No, for once it was *not* raining, one of the very few sunny days we've had. I think this icon rainbow is raining life onto the tree and the whole thing talks about timelessness. Going above time into the white cloud raining colors. So I went off to Leiden last Wednesday, and back six centuries plus. Pics cut for size:

First there was this windmill:

This is a long shot of it across the canal, it's called The Falcon and it was built on top of one of the city's defense walls, in 1743. Up to now I always thought windmills were for pumping water out of the land into somewhere else so you could farm it. Nope, there were lots of grinding mills too [that's why they're called windMILLS, duhhh...] Traveling is educational... this one totally dominates the skyline, lots more didn't come close to being this size.

Closer up, it looks like this:

In the front of this is a visitors' center which used to house an electric grinding facility, much cheaper and more dependable than the wind which did not always blow on cue, or blew the wrong way. The thing that looks like a balcony is called a "stage" and it is 46 feet up,[14-plus meters] reached by these impossible Dutch stairways that curve around on decreasing radii as they go up, quite the climbing challenge as well as geometric challenge to build. The miller got up there to get to the huge grinding wheels inside. It's another 50 feet [15-plus meters] to the top of the roof where the prop shaft is. Those blades are something like 45 feet long because you repair them or climb up into them from the stage so they're reachable from there. So the total overall reach of this sucker is something like 145 feet. No I didn't climb up there. I see why the lives of millers were not too long.

The milling theory is simple, you have one hugely wide granite wheel that stays still and another one on top of it that revolves by windpower, you put the grain in between and out comes flour, eventually. You can use it for spices, tobacco, hash [oops, that gets ahead of 1743], opium [that does not], and there's a special room to hide your stash from the Queen so she won't tax you. She can't grab what she can't see.

The propellor shaft is somewhat tiltable, to catch the most wind. The large outrigger beams you see are for tilting it from the stage so the miller does not have to climb up to the full 95-foot height to do it. The blades are covered with sails, which you get up there and unfurl; the prop shaft turns this complicated system of wooden gears which revolves a vertical shaft, connected to these BIG thick wheels which grind the grindables. If the wind blows strongly enough, you put on the brakes. If you are unlucky and the wind is stronger than the brakes, the sails take off to Estonia. Along with most of your roof.

The miller and his fam live in the first five floors, 45 feet and the rooms get smaller as you go up, P-Bucket is not cooperating so I'll stick it in the next post.

This has been restored with period stuff from the 1740's, it's the ground floor and the living room where someone actually lived until 1964, when the last Van Rijn descendant died out and willed the mill to the City of Leiden, who restored it and turned it into a museum. One of the problems on the way was that as buildings got taller in the city, windmills had to be raised up on their walls to catch the breeze. In 2009 it has been a long time, by now, since it had been milling anything; now the farm crops are all processed in giant flour factories, centralized in places other than Leiden. There's a little business office off the living room which has invoices from the 1950's... real ones, with the mill address on them.

So that's what's moving and shaking in Leiden, or what would be if it weren't tied down and bolted. I next went to a Coffee Shop, which is not like an American coffee shop at all. For one thing, it does not open till four PM [1600 over here.] For another thing, over here they sell you coffee, also many varieties and grades of pot, hash, other indescribable delights. The windmill museum was right across the street but the smoke in there was too thick to see very much. One wonders how high the millers got so they could go up that high to do their jobs... the only thing I am hooked on is caffiene so I was somewhat of a flop in the Shop. But it was quite quite good koffie.

Then I moved on to the Pilgrim Museum, in the next post. The post second above this one, but not 95 feet. Hopefully.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Feb. 23rd, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
I love your icon -- it's kewl! The cloud is really raining rainbows. And now I know all about Dutch windmills -- thanks for the history lesson, yay!!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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