Holland

Posted by Ellen

This tulip, with its "broken" coloration of creamy white petals edged in deep crimson, attracted the highest price ever bid for a tulip bulb during Holland's seventeenth-century frenzy of speculation in tulips.

In a January 1637 auction, an anonymous bidder was willing to spend 5,500 florins for a single Semper Augustus bulb, enough money to buy a large house on a fashionable canal in Amsterdam and more than five times the amount of Rembrandt's commission for his masterpiece The Night Watch. The Semper Augustus tulips, widely illustrated at the time as exemplars of the pinnacle of floral beauty, were maddeningly rare because a mysterious collector was thought to be hoarding the bulbs.

The collector rejected the high bid at this auction, and within a month, the tulip bubble had collapsed. It is not known what happened to the Semper Augustus, which vanished long ago from the tulip world. Quite possibly, the variety died out because of infection with a virus spread by aphids, which we now know accounts for broken color patterns in tulips but also tends to weaken their growth over multiple generations.

Like so much else in life, whether associated with flowers or with finance, it was nice while it lasted.

Posted by Ellen

On Friday, baby Summer celebrated her second Fourth of July. Her first was in Philadelphia; this second one was in Warmenhuizen, the small town in North Holland where she now lives with her family. People in Warmenhuizen don't wear red, white, and blue on the Fourth, but Summer's shoes recall her American roots.

Posted by Ellen

This is not, of course, a New Zealand sheep; it's a Dutch sheep, trimmed to look not so much like a sheep, at the behest of Amsterdam artists Lernert & Sander, who'd been hired by a newspaper to illustrate a series on the theme of family.

Human families, needless to say, have black sheep. What about black sheep families? It took dog groomer Marieke Hollander almost a full day to do up this sheep like a French poodle, but the result was, at least arguably, quite a black sheep among black sheep.

Posted by Ellen

On the street in den Haag, Holland.

Posted by Ellen

Back in June, baby Summer was a four-pound preemie whose days blurred into nights tethered to the beeps and wires of an apnea monitor.

But by mid-August, when she left Philadelphia to begin life with her adoptive family in a village 50 kilometers north of Amsterdam, Summer was fat and happy and paying attention to the world. That's what a summer on Kater Street will do for you.