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BLOG by Jo, WISE student in Poland. November 2021

I grew up in a very small village consisting of eighty one houses. Mine was the last one, number 81. The house was situated on a hill and was surrounded by trees, mostly by birch trees. There was a big forest with deciduous and coniferous trees. Nowadays this forest is called National Park and possesses the most common old stands such as oaks, beeches, pines, larches. Also there are a lot of heathers. People go there to pick wild mushrooms.

When I was a child I went there and picked them as well. I liked collecting boletuses the most but it was not easy to find them. My grandmother or mum made special wild mushrooms dishes. Apart from the mushrooms, I collected wild blueberries, wild strawberries and raspberries. They have a different taste than farmed berries.

I loved walking in the forest and breathing the forest air. But only during the day. I was afraid of going there in the evening. My grandmother always said that the forest is cheerful until noon.

The house was all wooden and had two rooms and a big kitchen. There was also a pantry and one big room upstairs. The rooms were very modest but cozy. Floors were made out of wood and there was no carpet, only small, narrow rugs by beds. Furniture was very meagre as well. There were a table, a wardrobe, a wooden whatnot and two small cabinets in the dining room.

There was a wood- fired tiled stove (different than fireplace) in the dining room and an old-fashioned oven stone in the kitchen. The tiles were honey- coloured with little leaves here and there.

I did not have TV and when I wanted to watch some films or programmes I went with my grandmother to our neighbours but we did not go there very often, sometimes on Sundays.

There was a big problem with water. We did not have a well. We went to the forest and brought water in buckets. Sometimes, we went there a few times during the day. The water had a lovely taste. We did not use this water for washing. We collected rainwater and used it for washing or cleaning. The living conditions were not easy, but it was the most wonderful time in my life. My family had a big apple garden, a vegetable garden and some chickens so we always had fresh eggs. The environment was quiet, no pollution, no planes, no cars, not too many lights. I remember the sunrise and the sunset and I liked that view. As a child I enjoyed walking on dew. The weather conditions were good in the past. However, I remember that storms were very severe and my grandmother was scared of them and one day I started to be afraid of them as well. We always put a candle in the window and prayed. Also, my grandmother covered the sewing machine to protect our little house from lightning, she believed that metal attracts lightning. Our house did not have a lightning rod. The house was surrounded by tall trees and there was always the risk of an accident especially during storms. Summers were very hot but as not hot as nowadays. Winters were very cold with deep snow. My grandmother did not like winters too much, they were hard in Poland in those days and it was also hard to keep the house warm especially at night when the temperature was getting lower…

My grandmother’s name was Theodora but her parents wanted to give her the name Theodosia. Unfortunately, the priest did not agree to give the name Theodosia. He said that he never had heard the name Theodosia and at last minute the name was changed to Theodora. My grandmother was short and was a bit overweight. She had brown eyes, fair skin and brown hair. She was very hardworking, she liked country life. She loved her animals such as a cat, a dog, ducks and chickens. Gardening was not very hard but cultivating the field was. My family did not have a horse like others in the village. The field was hilly and all work there was very exhausting. She had to carry corn sheaves, hay and even wood in sheets in her bag. Her daughters helped her with all housework fieldwork. Every Sunday, she put her smart, very modest clothes on and went to church. I remember the time when she put a headscarf on and looked at herself in a mirror. Later on, all our family bought her these kinds of headscarves. She had plenty of them.

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