The Latvian Etnographic Open – Air Museum – an Island of Harmony

Lettlands Etnografiska Friluftsmuseum inrättades 1924 och är Lettlands motsvarighet till vårt svenska ”Skansen” – en av de tidigaste efterföljarna till vår stolthet. Området är stort, hela 88 ha, och det ligger naturskönt och avskilt från Riga stad. Genom åren har gamla hus och tillhörande byggnader flyttats hit, så att friluftsmuseet idag omfattar 118 olika byggnader. De äldsta från 1600-talet, de yngsta från 1930-talet. Hela Lettland speglas områdesvis på ett förtjänstfullt sätt.

The Ethnographic Museum of Latvia was established in 1924.118 folk architecture objects and more than 3000 household items from all Latvian historical and ethnographical regions (Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale) , evidence from life and culture of the rural population from the 17th century until the 1940´s. the museum researches, exhibits and promotes the monuments of traditional life, as well as educates and informs about Latvias cultural heritage.

Den protestantiska kyrkan från 1704, har en fantastiskt vacker interiör.

The Lutheran church (1704) is a silent beauty.

Fantastiskt träsnideriarbete i altare och predikstol, och ett lika fantastiskt bemålat tak. Här hålls gudstjänst varje söndag klockan tio.

Magnificent wood carvings and the ceiling in soft blue, white and golden brown. Service every Sunday at 10 a.m.

Lägg märke till att ljushållaren vid predikstolen är i form av en människoarm!

Holding the candle, to the left, is…a carving showing a human arm.

Silence and Serenity

På väg nerför backen står ett vägkrucifix från 1907, en katolsk företeelse som var vanlig på den tiden.

Riga med omnejd 2015 675_copyKorsen dekorerades med blommor, särskilt under festivaler. Man hade också som tradition att samlas vid korsen och sjunga psalmer under majkvällarna.

Den här mannen hade sin atelje/verkstad på en bondgård från 1850. Han svarvade skålar, men tillverkade också slevar och gamla tiders leksaker för hand, vilka han gärna demonstrerade och sålde.

This man worked at a farmstead from 1850. His bowls were for sale, as well as spoons and toys made according to old traditions. He was very good at showing visitors how they worked.

Många skolklasser besökte förstås – och förundrades över dåtidens leksaker.

Many school classes visited, of course, and wondered at the old time toys.

Vi kände igen alla leksaker från förr, bland annat snurra, ”helikoptervingar”, ”brumma” och slangbella.

We recognized all the old toys, like this one below, made swirling through a twist with your hands only.

Till gården hörde ett praktfullt boningshus med vasstak, en köksträdgård, ett magasin för spannmål och textilier, samt en badstuga.

The farmstead had a main building with reed roof, a kitchen garden, a storage house for cereals and textiles, and a bath cottage.

Det mest intressanta var biodlingen, mycket tack vare en besjälad idealist, Janis Snikvalds, som tillbringar en del av sin tid på friluftsmuseet för att informera och även sälja produkter. Vintertid jobbar han också med bin, men då handlar det om kontorsarbete.

The most interesting thing was the bee-keeping and the stories from the bee-keeper himself, Janis Snikvalds. A beautiful idealist and passionate bee-lover with a warm and loving heart. He works part time at the museum, informing about his work and selling healthy products from his bees.

Han berättade att hans far var biodlare, att han själv först var rädd för bin, men genom att hjälpa sin far vann intresset över rädslan. Den harmoni han känner när han arbetar med sina bin är svår att beskriva. ”Man måste älska bin för att kunna arbeta med dem.” Vi fick provsmaka tre fina honungssorter, varav en ljunghonung.

He told us about his fear of bees when he was a kid, how his father made him help out and how this made him develop a deep harmony in working with these interesting animals. ”You have to love bees to work with them”.

Sedan provade vi andra biprodukter (!), bland annat små pollenkulor som bina får med sig på bakbenen när de suger nektar, och ”bee bread”, som kommer från cellerna i honungskakan. Båda är erkända naturmediciner och är, precis som honung, välkänt verksamma mot bland annat inflammationer och förkylning. Janis berättade att man kommer till honom även från närliggande länder för att köpa. Vi köpte ett par pollenburkar med hem.

We tried both the pollen products and the bee bread – both recognized natural medicine working anti inflammatory and fighting infections. Janis told us that people came from neighbouring countries as well to buy these products. We brought home a couple of the pollen products – knowing from old that bees work magic. If you are interested – Janis Snikvalds is also on facebook. Go for ”Baltu Drava”, and find out more about him and his products.

Janis berättade också om hur kuporna transporteras med bil till t ex ljungområden för att kunna få ljunghonung. Biodlingen i världen är i kris, men Lettland är det land i världen som förlorat minst bin och samhällen.

Janis told us about the hives sometimes being moved to, for example areas with heather, in order to get heather honey. But, they were not like in for example the US, transported for days or weeks in big trailers, stressing the bees. These hives were only moved over one night and one day. Latvia is the only country in the world that is not in a critical situation of losing bees .

Han berättade också om de gamla bikupor som vi såg på många håll i friluftsmuseet. De är helt enkelt urholkade delar av trädstammar. Sådan har använts från 1500- till början av 1900-talet. De höll i 100 år. Från början placerades de vertikalt med trätak över, senare horisontellt med en lös bräda som lock. Han experimenterade själv med sådana i sin verksamhet idag.

Vi fortsatte sedan förbi en vävarstuga och ett hus med spinneri till en kvarn, som ligger längst bort i friluftsmuseet. Det är en vindmölla av holländsk typ, där övre delen vrids efter vinden. Den byggdes 1890, och var faktiskt i drift ända till 1950. Man satte segelduk på vingarna när den brukades.

A Dutch windmill – from about 1890. This one was working until 1950.

Rysk ortodox kyrka, tidigt 1900-tal.

Russian orthodox church, early 20th century.

Vi var många som stortrivdes här – mysfaktor hög. Alla katter och fina hus, vacker natur och tystnad – en underbar totalupplevelse av gamla tiders lugn.

We were many people – and animals – feeling good here. Not least the beautiful cats we met. A totally wonderful day in the harmony of olden days.

Fasader och krumelurer – Looking at façades and ornaments in Rome

My fascination for Rome is also connected to its warm colours and its sculptures, ornaments and façades. Follow me through this collection captured during my walks!

Windows and lamp posts are also beautifully crafted. Even the bridges can boast statues and ornamented pillars.

And – as usual I’m obsessed with laundry hanging outside the windows or between the blocks of houses…

Some a bit gaudy, and some in perfect harmony with its surroundings…

Walking to the other side of the Tiber, for the Pyramide station, we passed this house – a bit scary coming home late at night here…

Close to this station is an old building, looking quite forlorn, but with beautiful staues left on its roof.

On opening the gates to the Botanical Garden, we understand that the gardens are not as well kept as they need to be. On the other hand there are some lovely old buildings and roofs.

Walking back late to our hotel – we are grateful for this lovely and interesting day. Good Night – Rome.

Trees and Ruins in Rome

Are there really any interesting trees in Rome? In this ancient world city where people have lived for centuries and centuries…and everything built by humans is of interest…Maybe a funny question – but as I’m a tree lover, the question is relevant to me!

Well, let’s start in Ostia Antica, the old port of Rome. The oldest archeological remains so far discovered date back to the 4th century BC. The most ancient buildings currently visible are from the 3rd century BC.

Where is the tree…and where are the bricks? Nature’s patterns have always been an inspiration used in the architecture of buildings and art of humans.

Pine trees are very monumental, and somehow they just…belong together with old ruins. Walking the cobbled stones and narrow paths this early morning here, birds singing and the stillness in the air…

The ruins are very well preserved throughout the whole area, clad with cement on top. The old Forum looking like a maze because of it.

The theatre is well preserved – click the link above to my post on Leya. But, I’m convinced nothing here would be as beautifully shown off without the pine trees.

Back in Rome City, the plane trees are a feast along the Tiber. Trying to reach the water…the sound of their leaves rustling and reaching out in the soft wind…

On our way to Circus Maximus there is heavy traffic, but we are greatly rewarded. The old arena is almost empty and not many  people around. A lonely tree stands in the middle of the remains of the old racing course. Imagine the old days, what buzzle and crowds of people and animals! A magnificent place.

The old city walls are still standing, clad in green. Surprisingly well kept.

I was lucky to hear and spot thousands of starlings on the Avantine. They all moved like One and the flocks were huge and amazingly loud. I sat watching them for at least 15 minutes. In Sweden the number of starlings have decreased terrifyingly fast, and we don’t know why. It’s been suggested they get shot and eaten on their way north – but I don’t know if there’s any sustainable truth in this.

In every city I visit I just have to go to the botanical gardens. I realized I hadn’t been to the one in Rome before, and I wonder how many people who really go there…We had great difficulty even to find the entrance. In the park itself, I think we met about three other persons besides the lonely, reading guy in the ticket ”box”. He was very sweet though and reminded us about their closing the gates within two hours. Two hours in a botanical garden is not enough for me – generally. But, when it’s not really season for plants and flowers that should be enough. Still, we had to hurry in the end. I’d love to go back another time of the year too!

Almost directly I came across an old friend – this strange plant. Flowers and the empty seed shells here below. I first saw this plant in New Zealand, near Auckland zoo . No one knew what it was – and I still don’t have a clue. The foliage reminds me of Nerium Oleander – but the flowers? No…I would be very grateful if someone could tell me what this is! A fascinating plant – small tree.

Ricin, the Castor oil plant, is beautiful but very poisonous. Grown in many gardens for its lush green and red colours.

Many old trees grow here, and the oldest ones are the oak trees. Some of them have fallen and lie on the ground. New to me was a method of heaping up a mound of earth at its roots , making it survive to give new life. Amazing.

Other old trees were fascinating too, and an enchanting ruin was hidden by old plane trees. Magical.

Maybe not a tree, but a bamboo forest is special.

Norfolk spruce hiding a dead palm tree.

Japanese maple.

And an old favourite from China – Gingko Biloba. I have walked a golden autumn alley of these  in Beijing – something I will never forget.

On leaving the grounds, we encountered this beauty, a Verbena,  raining down a stone wall.

Lastly, from Central Asia, ”Rosaceae”, Prunus. Standing dry and leafless against the patched wall of the house – I found it immensely enchanting…