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Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Our home and native land

Well, one of our native lands, anyway.

Just a few hours after leaving Milan at the end of our music program in beautiful sunny perfect rural Italia, we touched down for a few days in Poland.

First time anyone of my grandfather’s direct line of the family has gone to the land of his parents, since his own visit there in the early 1970s.

A rather powerful feeling to set foot in this land, and even more so when, at the airport, I recognized the smiling face of my cousin, not seen in person since his 1977 trip to Canada. (Ah, the wonders of Facebook!)

As we’d left our little B&B at 5 a.m. (preceded by a  delightful four-hour nap), arriving in Warsaw at 7 p.m. with a three-hour drive to our cousin’s home in Lublin, we were, frankly, famished!

Dear Jerzy (pronounced Yurek) took us to a tiny in size but magnificent in flavour traditional Polish restaurant.

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Oh my.

Kapusta — cabbage. Grzybami — mushrooms.

Miesem — with lentils.

Ruskie-style —  Sweetened cottage cheese, served with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

So amazing to eat this food, so long a part of our family’s culinary traditions, at a little eatery in the middle of our long-ago homeland.

The magic was not lost on my travelling companions.

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The next morning: The magic we’d all been waiting for.

This little piece of property, tho’ not the house nor anything on it, is the ancestral land of my grandfather’s parents, my mother’s grandparents.

According to Jerzy, in the late 1800s the land in this area and the people farming it, were the poorest of Poland’s poor. Leaving behind the little they had and arriving in Canada with nothing could not be any worse than the life they already were living.

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My grandfather was born after his parents arrived in Canada but four siblings were born in Poland, with one dying on the boat coming over.

The fellow in the picture talking to Jerzy didn’t seem as awed by the history as we were. Jerzy, however, was so so proud of having found this property and being able to take us there.

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There, but for the bravery of Andrew and Katerina Ilczyna, stand two little punks whose lives would have been extraordinarily different from all they know today.

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Just down the road and walking distance from the house was this old wooden church, sitting where it was built 277 years ago.

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What a moment to think that this would most likely have been where they married, baptised their children and gone to church every Sunday.

All so very amazing!

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These following pics are of no particular significance other than that they show some  family names via marriage.




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I love cemeteries and while the lettering is long since eroded on the family stones, such that even Jerzy couldn’t find them (although they’ve been found in the past) to think, again, that our history was right there beneath our feet, gave a sense of reverence for the actions of our ancestors.

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Interestingly, when Jerzy came to Canada in 1977 he told us if his father wanted to own a car he would have to save his salary for ten years. Now Jerzy and his wife each have one. They take none of this for granted, despite living a style so desperately different from that of their parents.

And as we drove off again in Jerzy’s car and  looked out at the countryside, we could see how easily coming to Canada would have felt like coming home.

Just as we felt at home by completing the circle for them.

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