When I was very young my grandfather would measure me, my sister and cousins by having us stand by the old stove. Each pencil line represented a child and we knew whose line was who.

As the oldest in this group, my line was always at the top. In school pictures, I always stood in the back with the other tall kids. I could not imagine being an average or short height.

Until now.

With my recent move to the Netherlands, I am looking up a lot. Not just at windmills or church steeples, but at the Dutch people.

The Dutch are the tallest people in the world and at 5’8”, I sometimes feel like a Smurf in the land of Avatar.

The two most amazing things I have noticed is how the Dutch can drive very small cars and manage to fold themselves into these same cars. They bend, bow and breathe their way into the driver’s seat. And god help anyone who has to get into the back seat.

The other impressive thing is how the Dutch duck. Are there special classes on how to protect Dutch heads or how else can they survive walking through doorways? They must be born with a built in instinct to mind their heads. I suspect that ladder sales in the Netherlands are very low…who needs them here?
I hold my breath when I see a tall person come into a small space, but they manage the ceilings quite well. But I am still in awe of a 6’8” man who steps out of a car that normally holds 8 circus clowns.

I see so many things differently now that I am in the Netherlands. But I never thought I would be looking up so much. But I admit, it is a lovely view.

Recommended reading: The Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken

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  • janeduttonutrecht  On March 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I really enjoy this, please keep writing about your adventures.

  • Jean  On March 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I love the title of your blog (Bikes, Dikes, and Likes).
    So good to hear from you! If I came out there, I would add “Hikes.” And maybe “Yikes!” Such a brave adventure!
    A former employee stopped by to see us this past winter. He’s working for a publisher in Amsterdam. He said it was the first time in many years that the dikes froze, and everyone was trying to find their ice skates.

    My nephew is blogging from a two year stint in Singapore. I feel very international now with correspondents in two countries. I’m taking Spanish, now, too, so I need to find a South American (emphasis on the American) blogger.
    all these

  • Susan  On March 21, 2011 at 8:31 pm


    Love both the title of your blog, and hearing a bit about your new life in the Netherlands. I was just thinking about you the other day, and wondering how you were settling in. I look forward to future postings, and am plannning to share this link with Edward.

  • Ann Kokernak  On March 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Congratulations! What a great blog. Loved reading
    about your impressions of the Dutch and the country.
    It must be so wonderful to be a short (5’8″) person in a tall country. I love it.
    Will look forward to more blogs. Keep up the good work.

  • Marty Flint  On March 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Love this post!

  • Pied Piper  On March 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Well, that should tell me never to go to Dykeland: @ 5’3, I would be more fit for the miniature parks that seem to dot Europe.

    One thing you need is a camera. What’s a blog without personal pictures?

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Janet Baker  On March 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I had no idea the Dutch are tall people–the two I know in Sterling are not–must be the new world influence. Saw Williams’ “Mild Train” with Olympia Dukakis. She was great in a difficult role; play was totally ambiguous. Good acting, fabulous set, strange play.

  • Christine Bellesis  On March 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Hi Jane!

    So fun to read the first entry of your blog-loved the citation from The Giant of Aberdeen County-an excellent book!

    George’s officemate is from Amsterdam and he is quite tall. Little Italians like me would always have a sore neck in that country!

    Nothing widens one’s perspective like living in another country, that is for sure.

    I’m reading The Crimson Rooms right now and enjoying it immensely; McMahon is a brilliant historical fiction writer.

    Well I survived the first Tuesday of the month without Book Circle…..

  • Judy Savage  On March 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Fabulous first blog. Looking forward to more. It sure is great to read about your thoughts and adventures. It will help me to try not to miss your great stories. Encore!

  • zelda schwartz  On March 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Hi,Jane! It’s wonderful to hear from you and your shared acute observations. Thanks for the book recommendations. We think of you often. Paul sends his best,too! Took an extra reading course at WISE to fill those Jane hours!Love, Zelda

  • siobhan duff  On March 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Jane,
    I love your blog. It is so nice to hear of your adventures and mishaps. I am also enjoying the fact that you are stil recommending books to us, so that we can fool ourselves into thinking you are still at the Holden Library.
    Siobhan Duff

  • Christine Bellesis  On March 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Yes, keep recommending books! I picked up Weird Sisters today! I’m finishing up The Crimson Rooms-that would have been fun to discuss.

  • NANCY  On April 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Jane, what fun reading! Keep your blogs coming! I may organize a group of Holden women (and Paul S!) to get together to discuss entries!! 🙂

  • Alison  On April 11, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I know exactly what you mean! In the US, I was always the tall one (about your height); here, I’m one of the shorter ones, especially with Dutch (female) friends who are six feet tall or more! I was ridiculously thrilled the first — and only — time someone asked me to get something down for them in the grocery store here.

    I hope you’re enjoying Utrecht. I look forward to reading more of your take on life here!

  • Aledys Ver  On April 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Hi there, new blogger in the NL? 😀 Welcome!

    Indeed, the Dutch are very, very tall. They say it is thanks to the amounts of dairy they consume, don’t know if that is correct!
    What amazes me is that, being so tall, they manage to live in tiny houses with those very narrow staircases and miniscule toilets!

    Hoping to read more of your adventures in Utrecht!

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