Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Where I’m From


Thank you Karen and Pauline for recommending me,
and thank you Hilary  for agreeing to let them.



Molly of The Molly Bawn Chronicles posted a wonderful post about Where She Was From and at the end of the piece suggested that those of us who had not been around when the meme first appeared  in 2003 might like to give it a go. It’s interesting what comes up; there’s even a kind of template if you want to try it.

This is what came to mind when I mulled it over:


I am from the banks of a river which travels halfway across a continent, South to North,  starting out fast-flowing and angry in youth, slowing down and settling into a broad expanse before meeting and marrying the waters of the ocean and thereby losing itself.

I am from vineyards, craggy castles, black bread and Sauerkraut.

I am from a land monotonous in its repetitions of fields of wheat and cabbage, copses of beech and oak, silent bogs and waterlily-strewn ponds, peaceful behind curtains of tall poplars. 

I am from sleepy villages with low church towers, four-square farms with sturdy gates, and black and white cows under  big-bellied clouds.

I am from deep blue cornflowers and red poppies, from hedgerows of hazel and hawthorn and country lanes, dead straight, dissolving into shimmering horizons.

I am from a poor people’s kitchen with a large table, a range to one side, and a bed in the attic, heat and ice flowers, summers and winters.

I am from weavers and dyers, from men called Peter and women called Katharina and Anna, from hard work and long hours,  from dogged endeavour, leavened by laughter and song.

I am from aunt Kathy with the twinkling eyes and warm heart, who fed me and hugged me, when others wouldn’t, from aunts who disapproved and uncles who smiled forgivingly.

I am from people who survived hardship and trouble, and stayed true to themselves; people whose determination and courage overcame great danger; afraid, they yet clung to what they believed to be right.

I come from people with roots in other countries, whose ancestors were blown across borders by the winds of many wars, who came to rest in the fertile plain by the banks of the great river.

I am from the teachings of all religions and none, from black-robed nuns and angry-eyed, loud-voiced firebrands, who took for their religion the well-being of all mankind in the face of greed and injustice.

I am from Linden trees lining avenues, mists rising from verdant meadows and pollarded willows stretching out their ghostly arms. 

I am from windmills, bicycles, chestnuts and herbs gathered in high summer, from apple pancakes and pickled roasted beef, from christmas trees and Silent Nights.

From grandfather Peter who buried his young wife and brought up his children by telling them stories of ghosts and goblins, from uncle Gottfried, the black sheep, who fell into the ditch and died of TB, from uncle Johann, club-footed and lame, thrown into prison, again and again, because he wouldn't stay silent, from uncle Peter, POW in Russia, who met his child for the first time when she was seven years old and frightened of him.

I am from two sides of a family riven by ideology, war and religion, black and red, the colours of deep conviction.

I am from boxes of photographs of people long dead, whose bitter arguments and life-long feuds are like wisps of smoke in the wind, blown about into nothingness.  

I am from people who left me a heritage valuable beyond rubies, a mind to question and probe, eyes to observe and ears to hear and dismiss the meaningless bluster of voices calling me to follow the herd and a heart unafraid to stand alone. For that I am truly grateful.



54 comments:

  1. This one asks for reading more than once, Friko. As I read I recognised 'where you are from'. Beautifully written -poignant.

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  2. Friko, this is the most beautiful and heart felt telling of where you are from. I got goose flesh reading it. You are a wonderful writer. A fabulous weaver of the tapestry of where you are from. Congratulations. Oma Linda

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  3. This is so beautiful and poetic. I was transported.

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  4. magic...i love there poems....love the sleepy villages...aunt Kathy...think i would have liked grandpa peter and his stories as well...smiles...beautiful friko

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  5. Wow. What a legacy you carry with you. What a treasure these people named Peter and Katharina and Aunt Kathy left you. This is so passionately and beautifully written -- telling a story and creating a thousand pictures and images in my mind of your Linden-lined streets, apple pancakes and boxes of photos from those who don't always agree.

    Indeed, I would also be truly grateful. Stunning. Just stunning.

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  6. Friko - what an extraordinary "I am"


    A tribute to your people, yourself, the power of our blogosphere

    Aloha Dear

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  7. This is, to me, the most touching of your posts, at least from the ones I have read so far. Although we come only very generally speaking of the same country, and are of different generations, I found several similarities.

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  8. Ah, yes, I did this template so long ago and I should re-read it and re-write it with more thought. this template does lend itself to being able to write with some insight about who we were and what formed us.

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  9. This is one of the best written posts I have ever read. Absolutely beautiful!

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  10. What a wonderful thing to do! It inspires me to have a go, but I am not a 'writer' and certainly not a poet. But it would be a good piece to meditate upon, to encapsulate a life. I'll have a go. Thanks:)

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  11. Beautifully done. This is a post I keep meaning to do, but haven't gotten to.

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  12. Pure poetry - the nuances, characters, and contradictions that make a life.

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  13. Dear Friko, this is a gorgeous posting. And when the time comes that you complete your memoir, these poetic words could serve as the introduction to your book. Peace.

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  14. Friko at her very best!

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  15. Manfred's grandfather was held as a prisoner of war in Russia for 10 years. People talk a lot about those times, but I think few really know what they are talking about. Everyone suffered, everyone.

    I think this is an engaging, creative spill. Manfred, who grew up in Stuttgart, would love this. I will send it on. ~Mary

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  16. With a smile on my face and tears in my eyes...dear Friko, this is wonderful. I gave up wondering "the Rhine (south to north) or the Danube (half a continent)" when I read a few words further. This story goes beyond geography, into the very heart and fabric of you.
    I, too, am grateful for what has made you the person you are.
    Thank you.
    K

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  17. Friko! You have outdone yourself! I totally agree with Dee, and was thinking exactly that as I read---This would make a perfect introduction to that memoir you have to write! We lived in Germany for several years and no tourism brochure could do a better job of describing your country. Not exactly prose, nor poetry either, it is like a marvelous marriage of the two.....

    I'm sure Grandfather Peter, Katharina, Aunt Kathy, Anna, Uncles Gottfried and Johann would be proud that such a writer came from them.

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  18. Beautifully done, Friko. Your heritage and ancestors live long and proudly through your eloquent words.

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  19. What a poetic evocation of your roots, Friko. It feels earthy, tough, gritty and real.

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  20. Your final paragraph is a stunning culmination to a piece of pure poetry. Thank you (and Molly) so very much.

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  21. A poetic list of all the things that draw me so strongly to you, dear Friko!

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  22. You are you - in all the wonderful layers that you so beautifully describe.

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  23. Stunning. Your heritage is you. You wrote this so beautifully I wanted to weep with remembrance of the beautiful time I briefly spent in Austria, Germany, and Holland. I could see it all as you described it. I also could see your people. Please write that book, that memoir. I want to read it. Please, please, please. Thank you for this glimpse into the person you are that reflects your ancestry, heritage, and environment.

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  24. I am overwhelmed by the brilliance and beauty of your words, Friko, which remind me of my own story yet is so different. I do hope that you will look to do the memoir all your friends here are encouraging, and I heartily agree that it is your introduction. Thank you.

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  25. This is beyond lovely, Friko.
    A beautifully written legacy.

    And now you have a Christmas present for every member of your family.
    I would have it printed by Blurb or Blog2Print and write a special message in each one.

    (Although the special message is already there, actually.)

    =)

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  26. Friko, I don't you can ever have written anything more beautiful and profound than this. An extraordinarily vivid evocation of place and time, of family and emotion, of all the interlinked elements that make up a life and a person. Dee is right. This is the introduction to your memoir.

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  27. Very nice. I told David when I die to have my body cremated and throw the ashes in the Danube. Almost all my ancestors hail from one side or the other of that great long river. Dianne

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  28. Lovely poetry. Profound and meaningful.

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  29. Bravo! Well done. Could be a beautiful song, Where I'm From.

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  30. I don't know what to say -- beautiful, thoughtful, profound, poetic and everything everyone else has said as well. Deeply deeply touching...

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  31. What beautiful images, Friko. A noble experiment I must try myself one of these days. xoxo

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  32. Yet again, following that format makes,a few word paint a thousand pictures. Beautiful! I can see it very clearly. Thank you.

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  33. Oh, how beautifully written!

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  34. I was transported by your incredible imagery, Friko. I feel as though I've just had a whirlwind tour of Europe, ghosting through homes and family situations in the midst of history.
    I've written one of these for myself (it has its own tab at the top of my blog) but I suspect my own words transport only me.

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  35. Hi Friko - an incredibly evocative post - I loved it .. and will be back to re-read. I think you've probably captured your history supremely well - with a mastery of the language that defies me ... that is your 2nd, my first ...

    Brilliant - hugs for those memories .. Hilary

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  36. Frico,
    I think that your post is written in one breath.
    It's very reserved and at the same time, it's told many...

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  37. Clever you, that's beautifully told!

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  38. What a beautifully written post, Friko! I read it twice, without pausing, and your place and people just came alive. Such a vivid piece this is, and what a heritage to be proud of. Kudos!

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  39. Dear Friko, I really love this - you wrote beautifully about who you are!
    I can relate to many of your memories - we come from the same land and are of the same people and generation. The difference between the two of us is that I can not be proud of my heritage - I wish I could. But I too have learned how not to be one of the crowd.

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  40. What can I say except that I agree with all the above comments. Thanks for sharing it.

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  41. What an absolutely beautiful post! I feel challenged to explore my own roots . . .

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  42. Oh Friko - this is splendid. You are not only articulate but poetically so. What a wonderful read!

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  43. So viele poetische und wohlgewählte Worte, um den Begriff "Heimat" zu beschreiben, Friko.
    Und, ja, wenn man sich hier ein bisserl auskennt, erkennt man Deutschland in & zwischen allen Zeilen!

    Liebe Grüße aus dem Land von Sauerkraut und Schwarzbrot, von Zuverlässigkeit und Überheblichkeit, von Kleingeist und Innovationskraft.

    Uwe.

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  44. Friko, this is beautiful. Your heart pours out the words with passion, evoking your love of your home country and gratitude in spite of, or for, the hard life you lived. Definitely something to read more than once.

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  45. You have a wonderful gift for words, Friko. This just flows, like the river you come from.

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  46. This is so beautiful, and here I'm sure I'm echoing what 48 before me have already said. I particularly love the telling details, like apple pancakes and pickled roast beef.

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  47. this was wonderful. congrats on your POTW!

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  48. So beautiful, vivid and rich. No wonder Karen, Pauline, and Hilary all recommended it! Congrats on the well-deserved POTW!

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  49. Your words go straight to the heartstrings: evocative, profound, beautiful, sad and with such a feeling for and knowledge of the past.

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  50. Friko. This is gorgeous! Every single word.

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  51. A beautiful and poetic post!

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