It’s cliche to state the obvious regarding Metamora, Indiana at Christmastime. It is magical.
One magical Christmas season was when I first met The Dutch Lady. I do not know the backstory of how my friend arrived in Metamora. We never discussed the road that brought the Dutch Lady and her husband to the quaint village, but one pre-Christmas evening I strolled into the Duck Creek School, a collection of shops, located in my second home of Metamora.
At the time, the Duck Creek School housed a few small stalls for merchants and a huge fudge shop. It was always the most beautifully decorated building inside and outside in town. I was a surly teenager at the time, but always felt the existentialism of Christmas whenever I opened those large wooden doors and smelled the fresh fudge.
The Dutch Lady sold items from her native homeland of the Netherlands. I do not remember exactly, but I like to think that this
day was the first day she handed me a Dutch Almond Windmill cookie.
As time progressed the Dutch Lady had her store in her house and a shed on her property. It was in this shed and house where I spent countless hours asking her about the Netherlands. The closest I had ever gotten to the Netherlands was the Michigan tourist haven of Holland.
My mother and father loved the trip to Holland, Michigan. The tulips are beautiful, it is a wonderful tourist stop, and I think my mother got amusement out of putting my sister and me in wooden shoes. I still have the wooden shoes with my name burned into the side. When I was nine I dressed up as a native pre-1900 little Dutch girl. It was kismet that I met the Dutch Lady.
The Dutch Lady arrived in the United States as a teenager sent here for her protection before World War II. It was the stories of her beloved Holland that I most loved to hear. While we ate almond cookies she would point to a Delftware plate for sale and begin to tell stories of what the beautiful scene on the plate meant to her.
The Dutch Lady was seen as irritating by some folks in town, but I did not care. She meant the world to me. She was fascinating. As I got older I learned what caused some others to steer clear of her when she walked to the post office. She had opinions not appreciated by others and would freely share them. I knew her to have a heart of gold.
The local volunteer fire department was close to the Dutch Lady’s abode. She definitely had a love/hate relationship with the department. I cannot be sure, but I am sure she paid more than her local cost for the fire department and felt justified in her criticism of it.
Each year the fire department serves food as a fundraiser. Christmas Walk is a good time to raise money with the thousands of tourists that arrive hungry during the season. The fire department is off the main thoroughfare so they purchased a lighted sign that allowed them to change the letters for any occasion.
At the time, the fire department did a good job of getting the sign ready, but would often leave the sign untouched until spring. The Dutch Lady found this annoying. On a walk to the Dutch Lady’s house one early spring morning I heard about the latest scandal in Metamora. The Someone-Stole-the-Fire-Department-Letters caper was the talk of about ten people.
It was not long in my visit that I learned The Dutch Lady had taken the letters. She was sick of seeing the phrase “Chili Supper” all winter. It was justifiable thievery to emancipate the letters. The letters did get returned on a moonless night by gliding under the fire department door after being set free by the stealthy elderly Dutch Lady.
Metamora has countless ducks that are kept fed by tourists and the small trade in cracked corn. The ducks irritated the Dutch Lady. They would climb on her porch and lay eggs, build nests, and became a general nuisance to her. I always found this to be odd because it was not really in the ducks nature to be that close to the houses, but they sure loved the Dutch Lady’s house.
One day I decided to take an early morning walk and found the Dutch Lady feeding the ducks. After a brief sputtering from her she laughed at her own hypocrisy.
Not long after the great duck escapade the Dutch Lady moved to Sarasota and I never saw her again. I believe she has passed on and is in the great beyond eating almond cookies and sitting in the tulip fields of her beloved Holland.