Had a surprise today. Came back from my morning walk and grocery shopping to run into
Zdravko and Visjna. Told them when I would be leaving and Zdravko immediately asked if I wanted to ride with him to Skradin, the village where his mother lives. It’s Zdravko’s home town, where he went to grade school, and where the family still has property.
To get to Skradin, you have to take a circuitous route around some hills that surround a large lake that is connected to the Adriatic. The part of town where Zdravko’s mother lives is a short ride from Skradin center andn sits on a small hill that consists mostly of old stone houses. Zdravko’s mother was very nice, although we didn’t know what each other was saying. Zdravko acted as interpreter. He was there to take her to the doctor. I took some pictures of the two of them next to the stone wall outside her gate.
The countryside here is crisscrossed with these stone walls, the result of clearing the fields centuries ago for farming. The farming is disappearing but the rocks aren’t going anywhere. The fields still have abundant olive trees, grape vines, almond and walnut trees, and such, but mostly growing wild now, or tended to by people like Zdravko who live elsewhere. Next weekend is time for Zdravko’s olive trees to be harvested and I’ve been invited.
We dropped his mother off at the doctor and I peeped in. Not very fancy but the usual patient table, computer screen, medical stuff inside. Zdravko then gave me a tour of the town, where Microsoft’s Bill Gates apparently has vacationed at least three times. A very picturesque town that is quite literally nestled into a cleft between two hills, with clear blue water in front.
The town was typical from what I’ve seen – stone buildings, churches, narrow alleyways, storefronts mostly closed for the off-season, and occasional cafe/bar open for business. Zdravko showed me where he went to grade school.
Back at the doc’s, we piled into the car and headed back to the Rosko family home. Zdravko wanted to show me the old house where he grew up. It’s not being used now. I told him I know a lot of Americans who would like a structure like it in the U.S. to renovate. The rooms were small but it would make a beautiful stone cottage. In those days, the entire family would live on the property – parents, kids, grandparents, uncles, aunts. The property has two wells, with the water only 7 meters down. This was interesting in that the house was near the top of a hill. The water table for the well is actually well above the water level of the nearby lake.
The property also has a cellar for storing and processing olives and a wine-making and
storage cellar still in use. Zdravko has five large stainless-steel containers holding wine (320 to 500 liters each). Finally, we said out goodbyes to his mother, who gave me about two pounds of almonds and a string of dried figs. On the way out, we passed an old lady shepherding a small flock of sheep. Pure Old World stuff.
Zdravko had a couple of errands to run in nearby Sibenik so I tagged along. Turns out he’s running for parliament to represent the Vodice area and has a good chance of being elected. We talked a lot about politics, globalization, why America feels a need to invade other countries, the pluses and minuses of communism, you know, light conversation. When he said he was reading a Glenn Beck book I almost gagged but he agreed the guy’s a kook.
On the way to Sibenik, we stopped at a highway rest area above the river and on the opposite side as Skradin. He had to pick up two political flags. As we drove off, he recognized a man standing in the parking lot who came in second in the election for president. Like any good politician, Zdravko stopped to say hello (dober dan).
In Sibenik, we met up with an artist friend of his at a cafe just outside of old town. His friend has his shop in Skradin, where he sells his paintings. Somewhere during our ride he mentioned that he had bought my book and his wife was reading it. So at the cafe, he asked about its genesis and my approach to writing. I told him I just make it up as I go along. We got into a deep discussion of why I wrote Love Letters from Mama.
Talking all the way, we made our way back to Vodice and he then helped me print out my travel itinerary in his home office. A nice day.
—————————————————————————————New Book by Ken Anderberg – “Brothers Lost” @