You might call it quaint. Or even cute. A rounded plump and squat tower made of imperfectly hand-laid bricks. A narrow open window at each story shows up here or there. Gently, methodically spinning round at a pace that could lull you to sleep, the rickety lattice sails dangle strips of faded and torn cloth. Yes, the old-fashioned windmill appears a relic of the old world. Part of a peaceful and serene rural farmer’s lifestyle.
It stands so unassuming. The feelings you get from a seeing one may be like seeing a crude pinwheel in a European garden. Or maybe like watching a skipping girl in pigtails. Like dipping your feet in the lazy creek. Like seeing Grandma clothes-pinning the wash on the line. Innocent, honest, traditional. Homey and warm.
But unlike tulips and wooden clogs and other images of Dutch tradition… the windmill, oh yes, is more than meets the eye.
Do you even realize what’s beyond this weathered exterior?
You see, upon arriving at the farm you were charmed. You were delighted as you followed the picket fence past the house, past the meandering geese, down the winding path to the stately windmill by the stream.
But walk a little closer. Near the doorway you start to notice the hum. Nearer still you feel the vibrations deep in your gut. Opening the thick, cracked wooden door and entering the structure assaults your senses. The strong smell of grain, cornmeal and dirt fill your nose. Yet this fact is ignored as you stare at the giant primitive machine before you. Two enormous 1,000 pound stones spin in a loud agitated dance. Consistently and uniformly they turn but in such constant tension, like equal strength sumo wrestlers deadlocked in grip at the center of the ring. Grinding and biting at each other the stones never stop rotating, never declaring a winner in their cruel match. Each groove and pore of the vertical stone makes pressing intimate contact with the surface of his horizontal partner but the rocks are cold and heartless to each other.
A simple mislaid hand and your fingers would be crushed then severed off, blood and flesh exploding out the ends while the bones are turned to dust. Yes, please be careful.
How those frail sails above you could turn such enormous rocks is baffling. Whole stalks go in and in the blink of an eye, fine powder slides out.
For what you thought was merely a country road marker to help you find your way like church steeples dotting the landscape is actually one of the most powerful and useful tools in the farmer’s arsenal. It is un-exaggeratingly life-sustaining. The windmill stops and farmer starves, no way to make the feed for the cattle or flour for the bread.
The windmill disguises unrecognized power like a lion in sheep’s clothing.
In the bowels of a simple windmill is an unseen contained wonder like when you slice open the dull pomegranate revealing an array of bright, juicy, flavor-laden pearls.
It is more than meets the eye like scrawny Canadian Steve Nash with his floppy hair might look like your dungeons and dragons buddy. But don’t judge by looks; he is a baller – an 8-time all star, 2-time NBA MVP and the quickest, most cleaver passer you may ever see.
Like the Wizard of Oz hiding behind the giant head masked by smoke and lights… but the complete inverse of that.
The windmill is master of the inside/outside paradox. Better than the Chameleon XLE sedan, (from the old SNL parody commercial with Phil Hartman and David Spade) the luxury sedan on the interior that’s made to look like a rusty junker on the outside so it won’t get stolen.
Let the windmill be a reminder to you: Be open to seeing potential where you thought it may not lie. See those spinning sails and think to consider what they are turning. Wonder what lies beneath. Stop and look behind the curtain. The magician does not walk in holding the doves. He must reach into the old hat first. Never judge a book by its cover and do not misjudge the mighty windmill.