How a Woman Who Lived in a Windmill Taught Me That I Mattered

By: Tina G. Rubin

I had just landed my first international writing assignment and it was turning out to be a dud. I’d come 5,000 miles to cover one of Holland’s historic windmills, and it wasn’t even working.

“You have to run them weekly, or they deteriorate,” Jaantje Bloembergen told me. But she hadn’t turned hers on in a year.

The April day I parked my car at the windmill Jaantje and her husband had converted into living space, she was in high spirits. Her tangle of gray hair framed a smiling, ruddy face. I took to her immediately.