home is where the heart is

Author: angiem, 07 22nd, 2009

I love the sound of trains at night.  Sitting at the kitchen table with all three windows open, the curtains ruffling in the breeze, I listen to them, and to the nighttime stillness of the house, and feel so comforted.  As a child we didn’t have an automobile.  My parents didn’t need one as we lived in the city, and the tram and bicycles delivered us wherever we needed to go. 

Every summer, as soon as school was out, our mom packed our suitcases and off we went to the countryside to spend our summers with Tanti Marie, our cousins, and the kids in her village.  It was a six-hour train ride from our place to hers, mostly filled with anxiety over the summer-long separation from our parents, and worry that our elder cousins might have outgrown the wish to play with us.  My sisters and I were the youngest of the bunch, and still very much interested in physical play, not talk, boys, or dress-up.  

Despite the uncomfortable wood benches in our compartment, and the beauty of the red poppy fields flying by, the train would eventually lull us into a restless sleep until our mom would wake us urging to eat some of the chicken schnitzel she had prepared for the road.  Because we were picky eaters, we needed to be bribed with candy.  Sweets were a scarcity then, as was pretty much everything else, but somehow or other, our dad never failed to produce the most delicious candy for us. It was their hope that the fresh mountain air, and fresh cheese and milk would stimulate our appetite and upon our return we would be a few kilos heavier.

When the train pulled into the station closest to our destination we were overjoyed. Whatever trepidation we may have had up to that point was replaced with excitement by the promise of an entire summer of freedom and play.  We couldn’t sit still for a moment.  We were ready to shed our shoes and take off running. 

Although the village was remote, and another half hour by bus from there, the air was different, almost pungently sharp to our unaccustomed city noses, and the country folk with their baskets returning home from the market in town, were loud and crude in their manner toward each other.  There was a ton of winking and pinching going on, and we stared unabashedly fascinated, despite our mom’s urging to look out the window.

Tanti Marie welcomed us with her customary pink raspberry cake.  To this day, it is the most scrumptious raspberry cake I have ever eaten, and sadly I will never know how to make it, as she had passed away before I had a chance to ask for the recipe.  She served huge slices of it with fresh glasses of goat milk for the kids, and thick Turkish coffee for the adults.  It was the first day of summer, in the most beloved home of my childhood.

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3 Responses to “home is where the heart is”

  1. Ligia Olvera Says:

    Angie, this is beautiful, where is it? in United States? In Europe? Where did you grow up? Where did you enjoy that beautiful vacation?
    I feel so happy&honored you reading me, but I feel a little embarrased… my writing in English needs so much practice and improvement…
    I do feel the need to write in English though… I have a feeling I should do it (I am in the process of publishing a book in English in the USA, but I wrote it and then three people worked with me so it was well written…)
    Anyways, you are such a good writer, I enjoy reading you, what you write will be a treasure for your kids… and they will keep it and will cherish forever… (it will not happen like with the recipe you missed, even the recipes you are keeping for them, isn´t it great?????)

  2. Jena Says:

    I am lost in the beautiful words. What a sweet childhood you had.

  3. Dana Jurca-Stevens Says:

    Beautifully written, you’ve brought it all back for me… I loved tusa Marie and Sibisel, I remember tagging along after Voicu (cuz he was a big boy of 13 then, lol) and saw my first caprioara… then he and Greg scared me by saying they were going to go look for bears, so then I would run away…lol… thank you for the wonderful memories my dear. HUGS!

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