Elburg, a small fishing port on the Zuyder Zee, which celebrates seven hundred years of existence, is now several miles from the nearest stretch of water.
Elburg, a small fishing port on the Zuyder Zee, which celebrates seven hundred years of existence, is now several miles from the nearest stretch of water. The harbour has a few muddy puddles and a large number of rotting fishing craft. Outside the entrance, instead of swirling, lashing waves, there is a mass of vegetation, with beehives dotted about. Birds' nests lie hidden amongst the plants and sandy mounds and already eggs can be seen.
Why should a port, so long an active centre of the fishing industry in the Zuyder Zee, suddenly find itself high and dry? Land reclamation. Continuously pushing the sea away to make additions to the agricultural economy of Holland, some harships must be expected, and Elburg is one town that has been thrown out of gear by the reclamation schemes.
This latest polder is approximately 30,000 acres in area, and where once fish were caught corn and vegetables will be reaped. Many local inhabitants are seizing this chance, before the ploughs take over, to wander along the muddy stretches to see just what the water has been hiding for so many years. Here and there are slime covered wrecks, lost and forgotten long ago, rotting in oblivion, reminders of a tragedy, of a furious storm, of a comical incident when someone got a soaking.
Back to everyday life, the people of Elburg have two openings now that their livelihood has been taken away. They can either pack up and go to another fishing town or retrain for another trade. With traditional ties both in town and in fishing, the final decision will bring some unhappiness, some melancholy. This is an occasion where the future prosperity of the community has preference over individual inconveniences.