|The kindness of strangers
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
Sunset over Noordwijk aan Zee
I walked down to the beach after dinner this evening to watch the sunset. I strolled along by myself with my hands jammed in my pockets whenever they weren't holding my camera. It looks bright and sunny here, but the wind brings an arctic chill to the evenings. My only company aside from the seagulls seemed to be a man in the distance hunting for pretty razor clam shells, lifting them up to appreciate them and then dropping them back to the sand. I found a quiet spot to stand and wait for the sun to approach the horizon.
As I focused on the sunset, I suddenly noticed someone approach me. It was the shell-hunting man, gesturing at his binoculars. "Alstublieft," he said, which is "excuse me" or "please" in Dutch. Then he spoke rapidly, and I gathered from the combination of gestures and the word "schoen", which I think means "beautiful" as it does in German, that he was trying to tell me, "Look at the sunset through these. So lovely!" I answered, "Dank u well" in my poor accent and took them from him. I looked at the sun. He was right. I could see it so clearly, bleeding into the limb of the Earth. "Schoen," I agreed. He laughed in delight, and spoke further in Dutch. I smiled and shook my head, indicating my lack of comprehension. He nodded, and said in thickly accented English, "Enjoy it." I smiled and spread my hands to show my appreciation and happiness. He smiled back and bounced off down the beach, bending over periodically to examine another shell.
I waited until the last golden rays faded to walk back to my hotel, my smart shoes filled with sand.