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Old 05-01-2016, 06:58 AM   #1
Wldrns
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Carpathian Wolf

So here I am in southeastern Poland this week, in search of any remaining relatives of my paternal grandparents' homeland who might be still living in a very remote tiny village in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. One small store to buy bread and sausages and not much else, and a beautiful little church (all European churches are beautiful).

As a few people gather at the store to see the American visitors, I'm trying to tell them who I am with old photos of my grandparents and family members. No one can understand a single word of English, and I know about two words of Polish. A very talkative older rough looking gentleman couldn't stop speaking as if we understood everything he was saying. He invited himself to hop into our car and points across a bridge to a dusty heavily rutted road heading up into the pastures and woods. Leaving my wife behind to fend for herself at the store, we head up the road a short distance until the clutch starts smoking and I've had enough of bottoming out on rocks and ruts.

Many years ago my older brother visited here and spoke of taking a horse drawn wagon up a muddy rutted incline, so this could be it. Unknown how far up to the road to go, I hiked about a mile uphill by myself, unable to see what lies ahead, cresting ridge after ridge until the road ended at the edge of the pasture and woods in the middle of nowhere. Nothing here but a hunter's old tiny A-frame cabin. I took this photo next to my boot on the road as I hiked back down to rescue my wife from the townsfolk.

To make a long story short, back down in the village I located a cousin named Piotr who invited me to his home for snacks and several shots of something labeled 95%... - "Na zdrowie" . Piotr then drove (after the shots) us in a beat up tiny car on to another rutted road, fording right through a couple of streams in the woods, to meet his very elderly 90 yr old but still spry parents (my father's cousin Dimitri). We had a nice long visit in spite of the language difficulties, looking at old family photos and eating pierogies, brown soup, some kid of canned meat that can only be a relative of Spam, and head cheese (a sliced meat I am familiar with).

My brother told me that during his visit it was so hot in the house from the cook stove that they left the door open to help cool off, but they kept a club by the door as their only defense against intruding wolves.

When I showed Piotr photos of several tracks next to my size 12 boot, I said: "Wolf?". Piotr's reply: "Big wolf". oh yeah.
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File Type: jpg Footprints.jpg (88.0 KB, 218 views)
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Old 05-01-2016, 09:39 AM   #2
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Cool story!
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:18 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing!

My own family hails from western Ukraine and there's a little less distance between myself and my forefathers (my father emigrated from Ukraine). My father speaks several languages including Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, English, and some French. I only cover three (and I only get a chance to speak Ukrainian with my father and step-mom). My Polish is limited to a few words (I grew up in a neighborhood with several Polish families). I've never visited Ukraine but I know my family origins. My step-mother is from Ukraine and uses Skype to stay in touch with everyone in the 'old country' (although that's not a phrase she uses). She and my father insist I visit at least once in my lifetime, especially to see the Carpathian mountains (Karpati).

"Head cheese"! The kind I grew up with was jellied beef tongues although it can also be made of shredded pork: "saltison" prepared here by this Russian-speaking woman https://youtu.be/SmkOvvb_zxs?t=6m27s

I suppose they thought your ability to comprehend Polish was merely "dormant". Some exposure to it would naturally awaken it! I get that in another form, namely why is it that I can't understand Russian ... it's a Slavic language like Ukrainian is it not? Um, well French, Italian, and Spanish are Latin-based languages but that doesn't mean you learn one and the others come for free!

It's Orthodox Easter Sunday today (following the Julian calendar). I'm not observant but do appreciate the extensive lunch prepared by my step-mom. That's exactly where I'm heading in an hour or so. Pierogies (varenyky or perohy in Ukrainian), borscht, and a whole lot more are on the menu including, of course, paska (easter bread).

Staying in touch with one's roots is very rewarding. Especially for one's tummy!

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Old 05-01-2016, 12:53 PM   #4
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I grew up with many Polish dishes, and listening to my grandfather speak a kind of Polish/Ukranian dialect, but not enough for me to pick up on any of it. Both WWI and WWII hit the region hard. That part of the country, and Poland itself was hardly ever a country onto its own with so many invading forces changing the border many times. My family in what we now call Poland at the end of WWII was split because some were forced at random by the occupying Soviets to move to Ukraine completely against their will. Someday soon I hope to make contact with them as well. I did find a tombstone with my family name on it from 1892 in the village cemetery, but I was told that the Nazis bulldozed most of the old portion when they invaded and pillaged the town.

My father had 10 siblings, 8 were girls. Five of the aunts and one uncle still survive and every year try to get the present family together for a dinner to celebrate what we call "Grandpa's Christmas" on the Epiphany (6 January). I'm sure I will be expected to put on a talk and slide show of my travels to the old country grounds.
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File Type: jpg stones.jpg (60.4 KB, 192 views)
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:21 AM   #5
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Nice pics ! Sounds like a great trip , look forward to more when you get back
Yikes, that is a big track
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:14 AM   #6
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Szczególnie podoba mi się zdjęcia do kościoła. Mają wspaniałą wycieczkę.
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Old 05-16-2016, 06:46 AM   #7
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Szczególnie podoba mi się zdjęcia do kościoła. Mają wspaniałą wycieczkę.
Jest to Kościół w sąsiedniej wsi. Wszystkie kościoły w Europie są piękne. Tradycyjna religia jest kluczowe dla Europejczyków.

Naziści pojechałem zbiorników przez cmentarz we wsi mojego dziadka, niszcząc wiele nagrobków.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:07 AM   #8
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Co Niemcy zrobili w Polsce w czasie wojny była okropna. Raz wykonany album poświęcony Matce Najświętszej i nagrał swój głos śpiewa "Serdeczna Matko" w języku polskim. Ta piosenka była tak ważna dla ludzi, w trakcie i po wojnie, nawet jeśli została ona zakazana. Bardzo chciałbym zobaczyć kościoły w Polsce. Ja też śpiewam w języku rosyjskim.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
So here I am in southeastern Poland this week, in search of any remaining relatives of my paternal grandparents' homeland who might be still living in a very remote tiny village in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. One small store to buy bread and sausages and not much else, and a beautiful little church (all European churches are beautiful).

As a few people gather at the store to see the American visitors, I'm trying to tell them who I am with old photos of my grandparents and family members. No one can understand a single word of English, and I know about two words of Polish. A very talkative older rough looking gentleman couldn't stop speaking as if we understood everything he was saying. He invited himself to hop into our car and points across a bridge to a dusty heavily rutted road heading up into the pastures and woods. Leaving my wife behind to fend for herself at the store, we head up the road a short distance until the clutch starts smoking and I've had enough of bottoming out on rocks and ruts.

Many years ago my older brother visited here and spoke of taking a horse drawn wagon up a muddy rutted incline, so this could be it. Unknown how far up to the road to go, I hiked about a mile uphill by myself, unable to see what lies ahead, cresting ridge after ridge until the road ended at the edge of the pasture and woods in the middle of nowhere. Nothing here but a hunter's old tiny A-frame cabin. I took this photo next to my boot on the road as I hiked back down to rescue my wife from the townsfolk.

To make a long story short, back down in the village I located a cousin named Piotr who invited me to his home for snacks and several shots of something labeled 95%... - "Na zdrowie" . Piotr then drove (after the shots) us in a beat up tiny car on to another rutted road, fording right through a couple of streams in the woods, to meet his very elderly 90 yr old but still spry parents (my father's cousin Dimitri). We had a nice long visit in spite of the language difficulties, looking at old family photos and eating pierogies, brown soup, some kid of canned meat that can only be a relative of Spam, and head cheese (a sliced meat I am familiar with).

My brother told me that during his visit it was so hot in the house from the cook stove that they left the door open to help cool off, but they kept a club by the door as their only defense against intruding wolves.

When I showed Piotr photos of several tracks next to my size 12 boot, I said: "Wolf?". Piotr's reply: "Big wolf". oh yeah.
You can always tell a wolf track from a big dog track because the wolf or coyote tracks are in a straight line. Most efficient.
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Old 05-19-2016, 02:23 PM   #10
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Now that is an adventure!

You can get simple words & phrases to translate on an app in your phone.

I visited my relatives in the black country of England once... My Grand Uncle Jack may have been speaking the same language you were faced with for all i know. I needed a translation from my other Grand Uncle Jack, who spoke elegantly and 98% understandable- except for the names of common things they have different words for. Boot for trunk- etc. .. now here is the kicker, they lived their entire lives within 5 miles of each other - Tipton & Dudley England...ROFL.

I think its funny I would have that same app set to translate English to English...

Genuinely looking forward to more stories and pictures from your trip!
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