I won’t walk a mile in these shoes

In four years of having our son Zach attending college in Holland, Michigan, we had never done any of the sightseeing I had looked forward to when we first visited the campus. Since he graduated this past weekend, I figured I’d better take advantage of the chance to see at least a few of the sights.

We arrived just at the beginning of Tulip Time, so I set out with Al Saturday morning to see some tulips. Due to the cold spring weather, however, mostly we saw a lot of leaves (see Holland’s Tulip Tracker, 5/2 – 5/5). We also saw a few people in traditional Dutch costume, complete with wooden shoes. I couldn’t help wondering how anyone could walk any distance in those things.

So I decided to visit the De Klomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory. I like getting to see where things are made, and how they are made. Also at the same location is Veldheers, a tulip farm perennial garden. I chose not to take the time (or money) for a tour of the farm, which is supposed to have five million tulips in bloom. From a distance I could see a profusion of bright yellow and red tulips, far more than I had seen at any of the other locations in Holland.

Now, it made a sort of sense to find a tulip farm, a wooden shoe factory, and a Delftware factory all together. All Dutch, right? But what took me by surprise was to see a sign that said they had bison there too. Bison? Well, the website explains that the family has been farming both crops and animals for centuries. And Mr. Veldheer loves the bison.

I didn’t see the bison (visitor reviews say that even those who take the tour of the farm only get to see the bison at a distance). But we browsed the store and saw the areas where the Delftware and the wooden shoes are made (though the only work being done at the time we visited was painting).

And we got to try on wooden shoes. Al tried on Dutch size 27, and I tried on size 25. They did not feel at all comfortable, and I couldn’t imagine walking around in them. A page of information about wooden shoes, posted outside the shoe factory, however, explained that they are meant to be worn with very thick socks. The socks would make the shoes fit snugly as well as providing cushioning.

wooden shoes Alwooden shoes PaulineBut I don’t have thick socks, and I wasn’t interested in getting some so I could wear wooden shoes. I suppose it would mean no more untied laces, or knotted laces, or Velcro straps that won’t stay closed because too many bits of fiber from my sweatpants got caught in them.

But … no, I just don’t see how I could ever really enjoy taking a walk in such rigid shoes. I’ll just have to put up with laces and Velcro.

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