Summer is so beautiful up North, and this blog witnessed many times the short intensity of the season, which I explored in different locations over years. Living all the way South of Europe, it is exciting to pack light and experience the hot and sunny weather also thousands of miles away. This is the tribute to my recent trip to Poland, where I re-visited the Northern landscapes, starting in Pomerania, travelling through Warmia, Mazury, and ending up in Sejny, bordering with Lithuania and Belarus.
I have returned to Suwalszczyzna region regularly over years thanks to my partner and his family. Each time I discovered something new, and mysterious about this remote, green region spotted with lakes. Since there is no airport nearby, we mostly choose travelling by train to get there from main cities of Poland, as I find it very relaxing to window-watch the landscapes and its inhabitants. Summertime is also a great season to spot birds of prey, waders, among the emblematic bird of the Polish summer: a white stork. It is interesting how welcome are storks, while egrets or ospreys are not. It may be a good metaphor about how certain refugees are welcome in Poland, while others are not.
While visiting the Foundation Borderland in Czesław Miłosz’ Manor in Krasnogruda, besides witnessing some impressive art exhibitions of its residents (currently hosting Ukrainian painters and poets), we could see how children are discovering the stunning, local nature through their senses. Because of its remoteness and forestal density, the region hosts hundreds of bird species, and this educational centre teaches even the youngest children how to distinguish, and protect the fellow inhabitants.
On our way through the region, we visited Wigry National Park, full of well-prepared hiking and bike trails. Last year we almost completed a 70 km ride, failing only to immerse our bikes onto a full-on downhill ride through dense forest. Nearby, there is a famous old monastery of Wigry, with a fascinating exhibition of a daily life of its monks, including the catacombs where some of the buried ones are on display.
Wandering through the woods, one may also find the memorials of the past. Inhabitants of various origins, religions, which settled in and then vanished throughout the past centuries. However, the traditions prevailed in language, gastronomy, and remnants of the architecture. Thanks to the work of the Foundation Borderland, we could witness the Klezmer Orchestra, performing at the White Synagogue of Sejny. Their sounds brought joy, sadness and all the emotions at once.
Sailing on different types of vessels and boats, swimming in the refreshing, ice-cold water of the deep, post-glacial lakes, we enjoyed this short trip a lot. And quite recently, given the updates from the well-known ancestry platform, I found out that my intertwined family roots may be tracing back all the way to the borderland of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.