After arriving at the adjacent villages of Nieuw-Amsterdam and Veenoord, Vincent stayed at a boarding house run by Hendrik Scholte (1841–1915). He continued to use the postal address of the guest house in Hoogeveen, where he had been permitted to leave most of his possessions.
There were probably three rooms at the front of the boarding house. The middle one, which had a balcony, served as guest accommodation, and Vincent lived and worked in it for two months. The room contained a bed, a table, a water jug and a stove. The house had an outbuilding that was used to stable horses. From his balcony, Vincent could see the heath, huts and a drawbridge.
Vincent had taken a canal boat to Nieuw-Amsterdam and Veenoord from Hoogeveen using money received from Theo and his father. He was full of praise for the journey and the lovely sights he had seen along the way:
“In short, I’m very pleased about this trip, for I’m full of what I’ve seen. The heath was extraordinarily beautiful this evening. […] The sky was an inexpressibly delicate lilac white — not fleecy clouds, because they were more joined together and covered the whole sky, but tufts in tints more or less of lilac — grey — white — a single small rent through which the blue gleamed. Then on the horizon a sparkling red streak — beneath it the surprisingly dark expanse of brown heath, and a multitude of low roofs of small huts standing out against the glowing red streak.” Read the complete letter
The heath had a calming effect on Vincent:
“I would wish that you might see the silent heath that I see through the window here, because such a thing soothes one and inspires more faith, resignation, calm work.” Read the complete letter
In this period, Vincent wrote little about his living and working conditions or the innkeeper and his family. Instead, he wrote to his brother mainly about whether or not Theo should keep working for Goupil & Cie in Paris. Vincent spoke of the art dealers in extremely negative terms and argued that Theo should become a painter and join him in Drenthe; that way, Vincent would have someone to talk to about art. But Theo chose to remain in Paris.
Though Vincent’s relationship with his parents had cooled, he had stayed in touch with them. On 4 December, he walked back to Hoogeveen, and the following day he boarded a train to go to his parents’ house in Nuenen. The reasons are not entirely clear. He was probably not feeling well, perhaps because of the gloomy weather. The cost of living was also a strain; Drenthe was not as cheap as he had hoped, and his financial straits and inability to afford art supplies must have had an effect. Loneliness and the lack of contact with fellow artists may also have played a role. In later letters, Vincent expressed the wish to return to Drenthe someday, but he never did.