The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I Remember, I Remember

I’ve heard it said that everyone should write about the things they know and this tiny, sun-drenched, windswept island is what I know  best. Sometimes, when I am driving to or from work, and I have some time all to myself, I find my thoughts wandering to my childhood, to the early 70’s; to a different way of life …
I remember my great grand-mother, Maria, who, like all women of her generation, the ones born at the end of the 1800s, wore her dresses down to her ankles and had her long, grey hair coiled in a tight knot at the nape of her neck. She died when I was just five years old but, if I am very still and quiet, I can see her still – sitting in her favourite armchair, with her money bag tied to her waist.
I remember one woman in my home town who still wore the faldetta. She was of my great grand-ma’s generation - truly a throw-back to times long past.
I remember playing hide and seek and hopscotch out on the streets. We ran and hopped, skipped and jumped till the sun went down. Streets were safe, cars were few and no one had ever even heard of the word computer.
I remember the quaint tradition of taking the Sunday lunch to the baker, where all the different dishes would be cooked together in the wood-burning oven. People swore that the food  tasted better  since the mixture of aromas tickled the palate and enhanced the dining experience.
I remember sleeping at my great-aunt’s 500 year old house some winter evenings, covered with a pile of blankets, and wondering whether the voices I heard in the night were ghosts or whether my  great-uncle was snoring extra loudly that night. Or maybe, it was just the wind.
I remember the old man who owned a sweet shop, pushing his cart, full of sweets and peanuts, to the park every summer evening.
I remember Benedetta, who ran errands for the cloistered nuns in Mdina. She pushed her daily purchases in an old pram with big wheels and always smiled at us as we walked to school. Benedetta, who knew the secrets, or so we thought, of those mysterious women who shunned the world.
I remember finding the occasional glow worm in a nook or cranny of some rubble wall, shining like a little star and then going to sleep with the sweet knowledge that I had seen something special.
Oh, the golden days of childhood, when winters seemed colder and summers less hot; when there were fewer buildings and more open spaces; when the there were more butterflies and ladybirds and frogs and birds. Was everything really better back then or am I looking back at those years through rose-tinted glasses?

9 comments:

  1. I was very lucky to spend my childhood on the country side with my grandparents. There the world was untouched, and I didn't know that all around the big and less big cities were in ruins and people hungry. We jumped into hay bales, played in the stables, catched butterflies and it was a real happy life. When I compare my childhood to my son's I think they were both happy but in a completely other way. His childhood was in the 70/80.

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  2. i love your rose-coloured glasses :)

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  3. This was so beautifully written. I want to keep sipping it like the tea in my mug! I get the feeling that we are roughly the same age and yet your childhood has links that reach further back into the past than mine.
    I am so grateful for having grown up in a quieter time with far less worries. A true childhood. One where my Mom would just open the front door and heard me outside to play--all day long! So different... so much simpler.
    xo,
    H.

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  4. Loree - this is such a heartwarming post. Such a richness in your memories and your ancestors. Here in America (we are such a relative young country) that we cannot speak of a 500 year home. Please keep your rose-tinted glasses on - I like seeing life through them. God Bless you for sharing.

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  5. What a lovely post, Loree! I thought you were much younger than me. I am surprised that you also took the Sunday lunch to the baker to have it baked because few families had an oven in those days, so we must belong to the same generation. I also remember that our baker sometimes mixed dishes... LOL.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, such beautiful memories!
    Sue.

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  6. I do believe that life back then was much sweeter, different and difficult, but childhood memory was indeed something to treasure.

    You had a lovely one, Loree!

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  7. What wonderful reminiscences of your childhood. I would love to see your windswept island. It must be so beautiful and hearing your stories makes it all that much more alluring. I love the image of your grandmother with the moneybag wrapped around her waist. So quaint!

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  8. Beautiful images ... beautiful memories. Love the thought of the woman bringing things to the mysterious cloistered nuns ... somehow I am seeing it in a black and white Fellini-esk way! :)

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  9. Lovely sentiments Loree -- you're making me long for the days past... :-)

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