This year we decided it was important to expose Juniper to a little bit more of her own culture, you know, so she could fully learn to appreciate it ironically. It turns out the totally awesome Dutch Theme Park is just the beginning of the celebration of Dutch culture in Wood's hometown: this past weekend we went to the annual "Tulip Time" festival in Holland, Michigan, a week where tulips line every street in varying shades of vibrant color and you see elderly women checking their mailboxes dressed as nineteenth-century Dutch peasants. At several points throughout the week, the streets are closed and people in Dutch costumes sweep the streets and dance. Despite a lifetime of resentment against the Dutch, Wood's mother bought her Dutch granddaughter the same style of costume she danced in when she was in high school (Isle of Marken). The festival usually drives Wood's step dad to extremes of curmudgeonity, but despite being in the absolute dregs of his third round of chemotherapy, he came with us to enjoy the fine weather and his granddaughter smelling tulips dressed like this:

We decided to start the day with a robust Dutch meal. Now, the only Dutch food I knew before Saturday was the pickled herring and pan-fried livers soaking in maple syrup that my Dutch grandfather frequently slurped down with gusto during my childhood. But for $13.50 I got a mediocre meal of boerenkool stamppot metwurst, groentesope met ballejes, saucizenbroodjes, croquetten and a raisin oliebollen for dessert, served by elderly methodists. One thing I'll say about the Dutch: their food looks exactly the same coming in as it does going out.

We then walked into town, where an appropriate welcome had been prepared for me:

The streets were already filled with Klompen dancers, with their wooden shoes and traditional outfits. The local schools have teams of competitive Dutch dancers much like normal schools have cheerleaders or field hockey teams. The parochial schools even have freshman and j.v. squads. Many of the performers came from homeschooling coalitions. I am so proud of my people. For some of them, even strict fundamentalist private schools are too liberal.

I know what you're thinking: this dude is totally wearing a wig. Nobody looks like that much like the kid on the paint can in real life! But that hair is very real. . . and she does.

This poor girl is thinking: "Man, I just know that asshole is going to make fun of my boyfriend on his blog. . ." I do think this dance move is exactly how Wood was tricked into touching her first penis.

Just as I was taking this picture of how pretty some Dutch men are, the wooden shoe this fellow was wearing went flying and hit some old lady in her eye. That was the highlight of my week.

I think the Mennonites come to Tulip Time just so they can look at all the Dutch people and say, "Jeez, check out all the weirdos!"

This girl is also wearing the Isle of Marken traditional costume. When I showed Juniper this picture, she said, "That's Juney when she's a big girl?" And I responded, "Only if I spend the next fifteen years feeding you a steady diet of fundamentalist Calvinism and saucizenbroodjes. Only then will you have the excuse to be this surly when I dress you up in that costume."

You know those signs from the old days that said,"No Irish Need Apply"? "No Wooden Shoes" is the modern-day equivalent for my people. And expecting you to buy something in order to use the toilet? How could they be so cruel?