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Last week I came home one day to find a sweet little brown-paper-wrapped package, addressed to me. I love mail! Especially in the form of unexpected surprises from friends.

It had a book about one Australian’s humorous experience on living in the Netherlands, and a little tourist book on Holland,which looks like it’s from the early 1900s. Topping it off was a lovely postcard explaining that my friend, while browsing in used book stores in San Francisco, thought of me when she saw these books. I’m touched that she went to the trouble of packaging them up and mailing them to me! Thank you!

The first book is called My Dam Life, by Sean Condon, published by Lonely Planet. It’s an account of the Australian author’s three years spent in Amsterdam, and it’s supposedly hilarious. Can I be honest and say that part of me is scared to read it, like his amazing stories will overshadow anything I experience there? I know, it’s silly. I’ll still read it.

The other book is an odd one. Written by an “M. de la Prise,” it’s almost a traveler’s brochure. It’s small, 25 pages long, and filled with effusive language and black and white pictures. I’m completely tickled by it. For example,

“Springtime is the season in which to wander through Zeeland. At every cottage door the lilacs bloom, primroses gild the grassy banks, the pear trees are like white garlands, the apple trees covered with rosy buds, laughing girls toll merrily at the ferryman’s bell, and from the lofty church-towers floats the music of the carillon.”

I’m slipping this in my suitcase to bring with me, so at least I can have something on my bookshelf. If I ever feel disillusioned by our adventure I can pull it out and let M. de la Prise seduce me with his lyricism: 

“When the traveller has learnt to appreciate the wide horizons, quiet canals and lush fields, the day’s journey is at an end, and on the morrow he perceives that the charm of Holland, already dimly felt has yet to be fully revealed to him.” 

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