Friday, February 27, 2015

A way of life I can understand

Not too many people think about living rural and rough which is true homesteading; not what we see on American television. Those people are just wanna be. I don't think that most could get along without a car, without heat and indoor plumbing. Most could get along without electricity but still they would rally behind the use of solar or wind and still think that they were roughing it. I consider myself and my son fortunate to have lived with people who had only a wood burning stove for heat, no indoor plumbing at all, no computer, no cell phone, and only one cow for making their own churned their own butter.

They lived with their animals, a kind of symbiotic relationship of giving and taking life. The made little or no impact on the earth and yet lived a full life. They had friends, family and celebrations when new ones were born and old ones died. They looked up at the stars and watched sunsets and sunrises. They washed in the nearby lake in warm weather and put on the Sunday best only when they went to church.

I ate without a doubt the best bread, butter, pierogi, cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, sausages and soups ever when I was there, somewhere by Bug a place where we can still recognize that east meets west.

Monday, February 9, 2015

God's Playground ~ A History of Poland

Poland, where East Meets West

I think that Poland is truly the place where east meets west. Why? Because, we can find different world views meeting in a geographical location that means 'local' as in "I am from here, this place". In all my time spent there, I can tell you that it is true. For me the experience can only being compared to meeting a nearly utopian multicultural community; but only on the local level. Having conducted research on this very idea 'Localness', I learned that differences don't matter as much to people who live together in a place sharing in the same local experience ~ place.  Because of that, for me, everything east of Warsaw in Poland exists as a kind of supernatural experiment.
Norman Davis, wrote the book "God's Playground, a History of Poland", to provide a comprehensive survey of Polish history and to show Poland's importance in European history from medieval times to the present. Abandoning the traditional nationalist approach to Polish history, Norman Davies instead stresses the country's rich multinational heritage and places the development of the Jewish German, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian communities firmly within the Polish context. Davies emphasizes the cultural history of Poland through a presentation of extensive poetical, literary, and documentary texts in English translation. The chronological chapters of political narrative are interspersed with essays on religious, social, economic, constitutional, philosophical, and diplomatic themes.
Would Davis write the same looking at Poland today? As a sociologist, I would. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Polish Bread

I still need to talk about Polish bread. Why? Firstly, because it is so good. Secondly and most importantly, because it means something. It is not just a 'food' stuff. It is more than that because it is a symbol of community, it is a symbol of wholesomeness as in belonging to a group in a place. I speaking of the full loaves of bread which are nearly impossible to buy here in the States. What has happened to the baker? Sad, isn't it.  You see in Poland, you buy a loaf of bread... a whole 'wholesome' loaf of bread. You gather friends around you and break bread with them. Literally, you tear off a piece and pass it along. At least that was my fortunate experience in many places with friends while I was in Poland. I wish we shared bread like that here, maybe we would be better Americans.