One of my resolutions is to travel outside Latvia AT LEAST once a year - to have a little sojourn in another country for a bit of 'kulcha', to encourage thinking outside the square, to refresh certain faculties that are underused living in Latvia (ie. being friendly to strangers) and to remind myself of various realities that I don't come across here (ie. museums are for children too!).
We've just come back from four jam-packed days in
As they say, its nice going away and even better to come home. Being in the big big
These boys certainly make life worth living. Such intense little animals that are so hilarious, little sponges that soak up everything they see and hear. Lately I have been grateful that I can have this time at home with them: teaching them about the little things, watching them grow, and learning a great deal from them about family, patience, humour and kindness.
Here's a pictorial of our Easter weekend at Kūgures (the family country house near Saldus). Action included tapping a birch for juice; colouring eggs in Latvian style; another tradition of swinging on a swing especially put up for the occasion; and the very Aussie chocky easter egg hunt.
IIn Latvia on Easter Saturday you usually colour eggs by pressing leaves and flowers to a raw egg and tightly wrapping it in gauze or a piece of stocking, then boil in water which has already been pre-boiled with onion skins in it. With a bit of skill and a touch of luck the pattern of the foliage leaves a lightly coloured 'stencil' on the egg (the photo of the egg is a masterful example given to me by a friend). You can also boil other things in the water for a different colour: my friend Vineta boiled up her dried "Jani" (midsummer nights eve) crown from last year - with lots of grasses and herbs and flowers. People also use moss, oak bark, chamomile, tea leaves...
In the photo above on the right you can see one of our Easter guests, Māra. Māra is Joel's girlfriend and an reader of this blog - hello dear! Māra's eggs also turned out the best.
Next was tapping a birch for juice: a wonderful springtime activity, the juice tastes just like water but kind of sweet and nutty and refreshing. Its taken us a few years to get the knack of it. You can start tapping (drilling a hole into the tree and attaching a funnel of some kind for the juice to drip out) once the ground unthaws and have to stop once the leaves of the birch appear. We only tapped our tree overnight but got enough juice (around 5 litres) for a taste of spring.
I know Jeremy looks like the village idiot in that hat, but it was bloody cold!! Sunny and warm one minute and then snowing the next. Kind of like Melbourne weather.
I'm not exaggerating (see pics below)!
This year, we are heading down to Saldus to celebrate with the family - seasonal celebrations are always so exciting with kids. Matīss has been asking 'when's Easter?' for weeks now. The only bad part will be having to get up at the crack of dawn to hide eggs before the kids wake up! So anyway - happy Easter to everyone, big or small, fluffy tails or no!
PS. I forgot to mention that Austra/Afulis was a professional photographer, who worked out of her own studio in the house at 13 Skrundas. So the photo is definitely a set-up. My grandmother wouldn't be the type to muck out the pig pen, especially not in dainty shoes like that!