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Cool Job: When "The Daily Grind" Takes On a Literal Meaning
As the only Dutch-certified journeyman miller in America, the only woman member of the Netherlands' professional corn millers guild, and the sole miller of a 251-year-old Dutch windmill in Holland, Michigan, Alisa Crawford is a singular presence in her field. Crawford uses the mill to grind flour, which involves scrambling up the windmill's staircase with 50-pound bags of wheat, which is fed into the mill to be processed.
"I don't need a gym membership," she says. "This work uses all my strength." It also dovetails with her love of historic craft, which was first ignited during a trip to Colonial Williamsburg at age 13. Enchanted by the visit, Crawford landed a job in her native Michigan at a historical reenactment village, which used a water-powered mill to produce flour. At 17 she apprenticed with the miller; by 19 she was running the mill herself.
In 2006 Crawford began more in-depth study: Enlisting a local Dutch professor to teach her the language, she made five trips to the Netherlands to learn the art of Dutch milling—and in the years since, Crawford's connection to that specialized corner of the past has only deepened. As she says, "History is so much more interesting when you live it."
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