To tell a tale

If we could tell a tale, in the glimmer of the ice,
what tale would we tell?
What story would suffice?
Would it be a story, of love, or of war?
Would it be a sad soldier, knocking at the door?
Or a fine maiden, all aglow with delight,
to see that her loved one, made it home
without strife.
Love would endure, in this tale in the ice,
and heal the wounds, in the heart of the knight. GRB

On this day…

…seventy years ago, my dad was riding in a tank into a village called Mirfield, (Belgium?). He and his fellow soldiers were off to clear the village of Germans.  Although at first there was no evidence of the enemy, shortly they appeared, and there was some contact that went on.  This is towards the end of the Bulge.  Division 1 was Richard’s unit of combat.  Their job was to clean out any remnants of enemy soldiers, lurking in the abandoned buildings, on the landscape. As I sit in the comfort of my home in the 21st century, I reflect upon the pain and discomfort Richard had to endure during war.  In his entry of this day, he talks about the bitter cold temperatures they had to sleep in, in barns, and sties, where they unknowingly awoke to melting pig shit beneath them.  He speaks at one point of his battle with diarrhea, during combat, and how he would have to relieve himself every 15 minutes, which entailed jumping out of a fox hole to a barn in the midst of German threat in the air.  If he did not take care of this duty, the alternative was soiling his pants and there would be no replacement for his clothing.  Yet he describes this event with comic relief as his rushing in and out of the hole provided amusement for his fellow comrades. This description reveals an aspect of our author, I saw many times in his life and that was his unabashed willingness to relinquish his pride in dire situations of necessity.  He was always willing to gamble with his dignity when it meant giving himself wholly to another person, even if he became the butt of someone else’s laughter.  Bearing his soul at all cost was something people really loved about him.  I think it has to do with his place in growing up. With regards to the war, the whole package of obstacles, physical and emotional begin to add up, and in our mind should conjure an unimaginably dismal state of existence to live in, although, I am sure there are worse. The remarkable side to all this, are the words Richard uses to describe this time in his life.  He had an incredible will to endure and survive, whatever came his way, and he did this with deep faith, with hopes for a positive outcome.  He was an eternal optimist, a true Don Quijote.  An example for all of us, who feel down in the dumps, and think there is no way out.  In reading Richard’s words, one can find, there is always room to dream.

She Still Stands!

A New Home.

This is the stand, where the kids and I used to buy strawberries from a young Russian girl, named Olga. She dreamed of being a ballerina and sold strawberries to make money, and pay for her lessons.  Summer after summer, the stand, sat by the roadside, in the field.  You could pick your own if you wanted, or just buy them from Olga. Then, one summer, the business closed down, Olga was gone, and the field went fallow.  Year after year, it stood there, empty and all alone, with sun, rain and snow beating down.  Despite the wear and tear, it had to take, there was some comfort in seeing it by the roadside, as I passed by.  It brought back sweet memories of picking strawberries with my kids, and talking to Olga, about her dance.

Recently, I drove by, and all that was sitting there was a huge refrigerator, a garbage can, and a couple of stools in a junk heap. There was no stand! I returned the next day, and decided to walk down the lane, behind the white house, where there is a small old barn, and some old sheds. This is something I always wanted to do, because I had spotted the buildings from afar and hoped to get up close.  Not looking for anything in particular, lo and behold, there was the Stand! She was intact, and proudly occupying a piece of land, as if to say, “Look at me!  I have a new home.”  I must say, her new home is a much better place than the field, as she is now protected better, from the elements of weather, and the brutality of the passing seasons.

Although, it sure made me happy to see, that someone gave the stand a new home, I wonder, what happened to Olga, and if she is still dancing, just like her stand, is still standing.  Maybe someday I will run into her again, or maybe her path will unknowingly cross, with that of my children. Perhaps, they will dance beside each other in a park in St. Petersburg, on a warm rainy afternoon. These are mysterious and mystical happenings one can only imagine.  There is a chance they will come true, and a chance they won’t.  If they do, it’s nice to think that it was the stand, that brought them together, and the love they had for buying and selling strawberries, as well as for dance.