Melancholic trips with fado

Sunday trips may not exist without music. Two weeks ago I had happines to listen to on the radio an interesting interview with Portuguese fado singer – Mariza and admire and even touch melancholic winter landscapes, which harmonized so perfectly with her full of postive nostalgy fado songs flowing from the car speakers.

Mariza talked about her love of journeys and Portuguese melancholy. Almost whole my life I had an intuition that expereicne of melancholy is common for us all, wherever we live, and it only may be different in its tones, but never in essence. My intuition got true when I heard that Portugese fado, from far western Europe almost on the eastern outskirts of the continent.

Winter journey, eastern melancholy and fado

40 kilometres and 30 minutes drive from the busy downtown, road across the boreal forest of majestic, soaring pines and firs, all covered with thick layer of snow. I can’t imagine a week without a trip to this primeval forest. It is one of these places, where you are not able to believe that God does not exist. Silence, mystery, beauty and emotion, intuition that He is.

But the outskirts of the forest are not less mysterious and beautiful. When you add to all of these melancholic fado flowing slowly from the car speakers and interviewd fado singer Mariza talking about her love of journeys and Portuguese melancholy, it gets just real wonder!


to be continued…

Rybniki – village in Knyszynska forest, early spring

Old cobblestone road across the village.

One of the most picturesque villages in Knyszynska Forest (North Eastern Poland, 15 kilometres north of Bialystok).

During the Second World War place of the Polish Home Army’s vivid activity.

Old wooden village, located in the vast clearing, surrounded with sky-reaching pines, almost always silent and melancholic, even though near it busy road cuts the forest. Red-tile gable roofs glimmer in the spring sunshine.

Spring forest 2010, somewhere between Ponikla, Kopisk and Rybniki in Knyszynska Forest

Road form Ponikla to Kopisk in Knyszynska Forest.

Road to Rybniki.

When on one sunny and warm April day I travelled by bike across Knyszynska Forest, a thought came to my mind, that all those places are proper to be here almsot all the time, especially when I have to be in town, in office, and any other place, where there is no space, no green, no sense of freedom. Honey yellow or amber yellow trunks of the soaring pines looking like towers of medieval gothic cathedrals reaching to clear blue sky, lush green moss, and all permeating the atmosphere of mystery…

Through the eyes of imagination I see Great Prince of Lithuania -Vytautas hunting somewhere here in the first half of the 15th century.

It is only 20 kilometres from my home in the downtown of Bialystok!

Trip to Polish Tatars

On a beautiful, warm and sunny Sunday we resolved to set off to Polish Tatars. There are left only few villages where Polish Tatars still live – Bohoniki and Kruszyniany. Most Tatars after the II World War moved to towns and cities – Bialystok, Gdansk, Gorzow Wielkopolski, Warsaw, and many of them stayed at their homeland – near Nowogordek (presently Belarussia, before the WW II town belonged to Poland).

First Tatars were settled in Lithuania in the 14th century by the Great Prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Witold (Vitaut, Vitautas). Here in Podlasie – in villages – Bohoniki, Drahle, Malawicze, Nietupa, Sanniki, Kruszyniany, Luzany, Studzianka, Lebiedziew, Ortel, Malaszewicze, they appeared in the 17th century. Polish king – Jan III Sobieski settled them in royal villages in exchange for money he should have payed them for their service in royal army, but because of lack of money in state treasury soldier’s pays could not have been paid. Tatars obtained many privileges – they could marry Chrisitan women, obtained nobility and were allowed to preserve their Muslim faith and tradition.

Today about 5.000 Tatars live in Poland, most of them in Bialystok (in the north eastern Poland) – about 2.000 – 3.000, they still confess islam. But it seems that many of them lost their Tatar features – not all have slanted eyes, black hair, olive complexion and high cheekbones. They perfectly integrated into Polish society, their islam is very gentle, moderate and peacful, we can say liberal. Tatar women have equal rights as men, they are not discriminated by their husbands, they can learn, study, work and have equal position to men. Their realtions with other national groups in Podlasie (Poles, Belarussians) apppear to be exemplary.

Below I am presenting pictures taken during last Sunday trip to Kruszyniany.

Mosque in Kruszyniany, bulit in the second half of the 18th century or in the first half of the 19th century.

Mizar in Kruszyniany. Mizar it is the name for Tatar cemetery. Many of tombstones come from the 19th century.

Beautiful pine in the mizar a few hundred years old, it may be as old as whole cemetery, which was established in the second half of the 17th century.