So, it’s no secret that we have lived in Poland for the last 12 years. That’s half of my life (Um…well, quite a few years ago it would be half of my life). But, really…We have lived there for 12 years, and there is a lot that I have learned!
Today, kicks off my 7 Days of Thankfulness leading up to…you guessed it…Thanksgiving! Each day I will write a blog on something related to that beautiful word. And I find it perfectly befitting that the first day goes to the country that has housed us for the past 12 years. The country where our actual home resides. The country where we legally are residents…Poland. White and Red!
I wish that I could delve into the rich history of Poland, but I believe many have already done that. What I will do instead is link ya up to my friend Wiki and let him tell you a bit more. Otherwise, it would be a Michener novel, and you’d be here for days 😉
Hope you enjoy…Oh, and if you think of a few more that you’d like to add to this list, please comment below.
Ten Reasons You Should Appreciate Poland:
1. Polish food. Um. It speaks for itself. And the art in which it is prepared is stunning, as well. It’s made from scratch, takes too much time to make, and is eaten leisurely while enjoying a long meal as a family. Here’s a site that I believe focuses a bit too much on pierogi and leaves many other great dishes out, but it is a GREAT start to planning your first but not last Polish meals. Oh, and Polish hospitality is bar none the best…especially if you like to eat! They serve, and serve, and serve, and serve you food. And once you think you can’t eat another bite, out comes the coffee, tea, and desserts. Notice I did not say dessert. Yep, plural. Desserts. And don’t empty your plate—because that means you WANT MORE! Smacznego!
2. Nicolaus Copernicus (in Polish: Mikolaj Kopernik). My dad is a science teacher that taught about this man for years! His hometown is merely an hour train ride from our village, and it is actually my FAVORITE city in all of Poland, Torun. But, if you should know ONE thing about this man it’s this…He is THE man. What do I mean? I mean, he is THE man that told/showed the world that everything does not revolve around us! Still confused? Okay—I’ll science it for us all…He is the astronomer that placed the sun as the center of our universe rather than the earth. And it hasn’t changed today. We still revolve around the sun. Pretty awesome that this man came from a small city in Poland an hour from where I live, eh? I think so!
3. Torun Yep. I pretty much find this the most beautiful and tasty city in all of Poland. Let me explain. First of all, it’s a walkable city. Which pretty much rocks it. Because that means, besides the bus ride from the train station across the bridge, you can see oodles of massive history by walking—and you can do it all in a day. What do I suggest? The Leaning Tower of Torun. Now, I like the romaticized version much better—a Teutonic Knight fell in love with a city maiden. His punishment for his love was to build a tower. Ah. Who wouldn’t love a story like that? But, anyhow…history reigns, I guess.
Also in Torun, there is the home of Nicolaus Copernicus, the bell tower to climb, the ruins of a Teutonic Knight Castle, and gingerbread, gingerbread everywhere!
And wrap up your day waltzing along the riverfront. It is a city you will fall in love with and never forget!
4. Simplicity. I am not suggesting that you are lazy. What I am saying is that there is beauty in simplicity. Often we let stuff or activities clutter our homes and our lives. And we forget to embrace what is most beautiful. Our faith. Our family. Our environment around us. Someone complimented my daughter once in Poland. We traveled to a different city to work for 4 days. I didn’t pack a single book or toy for her. And my friends that were also along said this, “Adelyne can find a string and play for hours.” It’s true. When we take away stuff, we are still left with our hearts, our family, and our imaginations. We are still left with feet for walking and mouths for talking. Simplicity is realizing that there truly is no “need” for stuff. And only then do you really begin to appreciate what you have.
5. Seasons. What can I say? When you live in a desert for 25 years, the only time the leaves fall from the trees are when the new leaves are trying to take over…Which means January! My daughter’s favorite seasons in Poland are: the rainy and the snowy seasons (aka Spring and Winter). Why? Because she loves throwing on her rain boots, pulling out her umbrella, putting on her rain jacket to literally go “singing” in the rain! As for the snow…Well, for any kid, it should be obvious: snowmen, snowball fights, sled rides, and sledding.
For me…It’s when the tulips begin to bloom from the ground in Spring. It’s when the fields, once again, become alive with life. It’s when the deer once again graze our neighboring fields-it’s when the sky turns from depressing gray to light blue and the sun never sets (Or so it appears to never set).
Seasons. Glorious seasons.
6. Traditions. Poland is steeped in traditions. I guess it is impossible for a country to be 1000 years old and lack tradition. One of my favorites is the back to school tradition of the children dressing up, meeting at the local Catholic church, and attending Mass where the priest shares with the children an encouragement for them to take with them into the school year. And then, after it is all over, the children walk collectively down the road to school where the headmaster begins the school year with all of the students and parents in the schoolyard, giving a charge for the new year. It’s a really great way to start the year off right! Think Fiddler on the Roof, “Traditions!” Yes…Some we could toss. But this is one I hope sticks around for years to come.
7. Solidarity (aka Solidarnosc). You and I, if we did not grow up in Easter Europe under communism, probably don’t understand the power behind this word.
I will let Wikipedia explain it best, “In the 1980s, Solidarity was a broad anti-bureaucratic social movement, using the methods of civil resistance to advance the causes of workers’ rights and social change. The government attempted to destroy the union during the period of martial law in the early 1980s and several years of political repression, but in the end it was forced to negotiate with the union.”
You see, I have been to those shipyards, to the Museum of Solidarity in Gdansk, and I live in post-communist Poland. And I can see why Poland was a powerful leader behind the change from communism to freedom.
Solidarity is more than people standing up for their basic working rights as human beings. Solidarity was a movement of bravery.
I wonder if I would have been so bold? I would hope so. But I thank Poland for teaching so many around the world that you can’t keep a good country down!
8. Resilience. Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes resilience in the following ways:
the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
Yep. I would say that pretty much sums up the country of Poland. I wrote an article in 2006 about the 50-year anniversary of the June 1956 uprisings in Poznan for Freedom, Justice, and Bread.
People demanded better working conditions. They swarmed the streets. They took over police stations and prisons, and public locations. And they stood their ground.
Then the tanks came in…some lost lives, and the rest were threatened. In the words of the Prime Minister, “any provocateur or lunatic who raises his hand against the people’s government may be sure that this hand will be chopped off.”
I hope that if there is one Top 10 that you continue to read up on after this article, it’s this…The June 1956 Uprisings in Poznan. Look at the streets. Those are the same streets I walk today. Look at the buildings, you may even spy my old flat. Look at the castle, the tanks, the people marching.
Resilience? Yes…Poles fought for basic rights: Freedom, Justice, and Bread. They were threatened, some killed, and yet, staying strong, they made it.
Today—Poland is a country of great strength, courageous spirit, and continued progress.
And, again, I ask myself, “Would I, too, be so brave?” I hope the answer would be yes. But I don’t actually know.
9. Location, location, location!
Well, there’s not much for me to say here except that Poland is now considered Central Europe. It’s location is fantastic. You can easily travel to countries such as Germany, Czech, Denmark, Slovakia, Ukraine, or hop on ferry and head to Sweden—just to name a few.
We make it to Italy in 13 hours. Can’t beat that. From where I live in AZ, we make it Sacramento in 13 hours.
I think, if it wasn’t for Rich’s grandma living in Sacramento, I would say that I prefer a 13-hour drive to Italy 😉 How about you?
10. THE STORKS!
Well, the most that I can say about these storks is that they make my heart sing with glee! I love when it’s time for them to migrate from Northern Africa to Poland (and other surrounding countries). We have two stork nests within viewing distance of our home in Poland, and I stop by or near their nests every day to see if the babies are starting to peek their heads over the top of their ginormous homes.
And the best part of living near two stork nests, we often get stork visitors in our fields—eating our frogs, driving our dogs insane. And we all rush outside to watch them walk gracefully through our fields. And we simply enjoy their splendor because we know that as soon as the winds change and the cold comes, they leave us, once again, and return to Northern Africa. And then we have to wait a year before their return.
The storks…Yep. One of my favorite parts of Poland! And if you are around me for 2.5 seconds during stork season, I am sure that I have driven you past the nests near my home and then taken you on a scenic tour of the surrounding villages where you can spy additional, glorious storks!
Poland. It’s not a country of perfection. But it is a country that we call home. And we are thankful for the richness that it has brought into our lives…
Poland. White and Red!
Here is an article by CNN Travel on the 25th anniversary of Poland’s Independence. I hope that you enjoy it, too. Click and enjoy the read!
25 Things We Love about Poland