Today was the day I was going to find the silver ring the universe kept saying I needed to find. And where was it going to be? Nijmegen!
After a leisurely morning of sleeping in to recover from the prior two days and prepare to speak again tonight, I thought I would head toward Groesbeek and stop in Nijmegen to look for this ring. So I drove along beautiful roads and got to Nijmegen and felt like that was not the place to find the ring.
Hungry and a bit frustrated about this voice in my head, I decided to ignore it and continue to Groesbeek and find lunch. It was a bit cloudy and grey but people were out and about and there was a happy atmosphere in Groesbeek. I found a little café to have lunch where I ate a delicious sandwich and relaxed over coffee afterward. Discovering there was only one jewelry store in town, and the owner was on holiday, I took a walk.
I discovered a lot of Liberation Route signs all over the town which depicted scenes from the Operation Market Garden time period of September 1944, and pointed out points near the signs so you could get a then and now perspective. Walking along I thought it would be a good idea for the next trip to actually figure out where all these signs were in each town so I could go on an adventure and find them all!
Then and Now
On my walk I did find a chapel and was able to light some candles and sit for a while and contemplate life. Then when I was finished there I did a bit of shopping and headed toward my hotel for the evening. I was staying at the Hampshire Landgoedhotel, where Rense Havinga, the curator at the National Liberation Museum where I was to speak, recommended having dinner. Apparently their restaurant is top-notch.
On the way to the hotel I stumbled upon the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Of course I had to stop even though it was a drizzly day at this point. The soldiers called out. There were moments when the sun tried to peek through the clouds and shine light down on us.
The cemetery is beautiful and peaceful and situated on a hill overlooking fields and forests. Only a couple of people were there when I arrived and one soldier was near the Cross of Sacrifice. I spent a lot of time looking at the stones and photographing them. The CWGC stones all have a quote or prayer or something on the bottom. They are unlike our ABMC stones. As I walked I even passed a bench with soldiers just hanging out and talking. They were enjoying the quiet. It was the perfect way to spend some time that afternoon.
I checked into the hotel which was situated near a forest and some fields with sheep. Even though the day was gray and misty, it was peaceful and beautiful. My room was gigantic and the back doors opened onto a small patio which was against the field. Just a short walk across the field of sheep and I could be in a forest. I spent the afternoon relaxing and writing before I had to get changed for my program and dinner beforehand.
Rense was not wrong when he said the restaurant was highly recommended. I had the most delicious, savory roast duck, vegetables, and salad for dinner. Because of timing I had to rush a little, but oh my, it was delicious.
I arrived at the museum and met two Facebook friends, Herman and Bob. These kind gentlemen carried my box of books and made sure I made it in the dark from the parking lot to the museum. We met with Rense and got me set up in their theater. Then it was off to the café for tea and meeting people before the program.
Several people I knew were at the museum that evening, including Helen, Hans and his two sons, Bob and Herman. The theater was half-filled and people were very receptive to the stories and information. When the program was over, many of us gathered in the café again for coffee and conversation.
My third program in the Netherlands had ended and the experience was great. I met many wonderful people who shared their stories with me and gave me information so I can share it with others.
Later when I returned to my hotel, the moon was rising high in the sky. I opened the back doors in my room that led to the patio and watched the moon rise as the clouds floated by. I heard noises in the forest as if the soldiers were wandering around or settling down for the night. You could feel their presence so intensely. After wishing them light and love and bidding them goodnight I closed the doors and drapes and soon headed off to dreamland. As I counted my blessings and thought briefly about the following day, I was determined to find that ring. And so the next day………
© 2015 Jennifer Holik