Dutch Colonial Homes in America

The Life of a Day,
page 4 of 7

roses, stock roses, cornelian roses, eglantine, jenoffelins, gillyflowers, different varieties of fine tulips, crown-imperials, white lilies, anemones, bare-dames, violets, marigolds, summer-sots, clove-trees.” Garden-flowers of native growth were “sunflowers, red and yellow lilies, morning-stars, bell-flowers, red and white and yellow maritoffles.” I do not know what all these “flower-gentles” were, but surely it was no dull array of blossoms; nor were their glories dimmed because they opened ever by the side of the homely cabbages and lettuce, the humble cucumbers and beans, that were equally beloved and tended by the garden-maker.

And the housewife had her beloved and homelike poultry. Flocks of snowy geese went waddling slowly down the town streets, seeking the water-side; giving rich promise of fat holiday dinners and plumper and more plentiful feather-beds; comfortable and thriving looking as geese always are, and ever indicative of prosperous, thrifty homes, they comported well with the pipe-smoking burgher and his knitting huys-vrouw and their homelike dwelling.

There was one element of beauty and picturesqueness which idealized the little town and gave it an added element of life,—

                    “Over all and everywhere
                    The sails of windmills sink and soar
                    Like wings of sea-gulls on the shore.”

The beauty of the windmills probably was not so endearing to the settlers as their homelikeness. They made the new strange land and the new little towns seem like the Fatherland. The Indians greatly feared them; as one chronicler states, “they durst not come near their long arms and big teeth biting the corn in pieces.” Last, and not least in the minds of the thrifty Dutch, the windmills helped to turn to profit the rich harvests of grain which were the true foundation of the colony’s prosperity, —not the rich peltries of beaver, as was at first boastfully vaunted by the fur-traders.

As the day wore on, the day’s work was ended, and a neighborly consultation and exchange of greetings formed the day’s recreation. The burgher went to the little market-house, and with his neighbors and a few chance travellers, such as the skippers on the river-sloops, he smoked again his long pipe and talked over the weighty affairs of the colonie.


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