Monday, 6 August 2018

Marieke Merriweather's Klompen

Marieke Merriweather's Klompen: Object Post 64

Source? Marieke imported the raw items
Significance? They were a symptom of both Marieke’s determined Dutchness and her business acumen
Fate? Painted, varnished and sold at Marieke’s Klein Nederlanden
Author’s inspiration? It’s such an excellent word
Appeared in? The Kissing Ring

“Dennis is consigning klompen in the basement,” she said.
Tom rolled his eyes. “I’ll klompen you, Tante.”
“Clogs, then.” She grinned unrepentantly.
“You’re not selling clogs here?”
“We are! I found a little girl who paints tulips, very pretty. The raw clogs come in, we send them to be painted, varnished, and then we sell them to visitors.”
“Clogs. Really?”
Marieke laughed. “Really, Tom. Why not?”
“With tulips on them.”
“Tulips are popular. And some will have windmills.”
“And cheese?”
“Now you mock me.”
“Not really.”

Tom Merriweather went to help out at his uncle and aunt’s tulip farm for a few weeks. Dennis Merriweather had married a Dutch backpacker whom Tom knew as Tante Marieke. He was fond of them, and quite happy to help out, though disconcerted at the news they already had a student helper.

He left his case on the bed and turned back to his aunt. “Are you going to show me the ropes for tomorrow? What am I doing, again?”
“Our student will explain. She’s out in the packing shed.”
“Packing klompen?”
“Flowers. We’ll need you to drive them down to the buyers early in the morning. Introduce yourself, yes? And don’t you dare flirt with her and raise false expectations.”
“Would I?” Tom set off for the new shed.

The “false expectations” referred to Tom’s romantic status; his girlfriend Ryl lived in Victoria and they hoped to move in together as soon as she turned eighteen.

He walked into the shed, setting the bell jangling overhead. It was a deep-noted cowbell, with a tulip-shaped clapper.
Really. Next, it would be raining Edam and Gouda.
The first thing that caught his eye was a gleaming sea of klompen which were indeed painted with tulips and windmills. Tom picked one up and mentally apologised for sneering. The painting was a miniature and beautifully done. He noted each was slightly different.

The klompen, traditional Dutch clogs, could have been cheap tourist souvenirs but instead Marieke had arranged for them to be something special. Her attention to detail meant Marieke’s Klein Nederlanden was still going strong thirty years later.

Tom reflected on how to explain his own situation to his pragmatic uncle.

But, was he so pragmatic? Back in the 1960s, he’d married a tall Dutch backpacker instead of a local girl, and now he had windmills and klompen and more than a nodding acquaintance with speculaas. And what had possessed him to grow flowers, rather than the more usual cash crops of cabbages, peas and potatoes? Was that all Marieke’s influence, or was she more of a symptom than a cause?
Tom shook his head at himself. He was in love with a fairy, so who was he to think someone else’s life-choices a little bizarre?

The klompen make one more appearance, this time by their absence, when the student helper (who turned out to be his girlfriend Ryl) had to fly home the day before Tom’s birthday. She left him a gift with instructions to open it first thing in the morning.

He straightened the ribbon and started on the paper. It was printed with tulips. Had she got him something from the showroom? Not klompen. It was too small and too light for that. It was really too small to be anything but—
The clock’s hands clicked to midnight and began to tally the next day.

Of course the gift is not a pair of clogs, but it still has something to do with Tante Marieke.

The klompen appear in The Kissing Ring. Marieke’s Klein Nederlanden is referenced in Man Overboard when Tom’s cousin Bart’s daughter goes to help out while Den and Marieke are in Holland.


Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)

The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

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