It’s true: I know it, and am grateful every day. My brother Charles and his family came to Magura this month for their first visit, and he was utterly bewitched by the place. He told all my neighbours that it was magical, like a fairytale. And not just the beauty of the landscape, but the survival of so many traditions: folklore, traditional dress, time-proven skills, food and the whole way of life.
He was fascinated by my neighbour Viorel’s skill with the scythe (I’ll post a video later), and was captivated by a happy moment when Viorel’s wife Roxana and a little chorus of children stopped on their way to a village wedding to give us a preview of the song they would sing for the bride.
Here’s my piece in the first edition of the new print magazine OZB (O Zi Buna). The English-language mag, well-illustrated, is produced by a British-Dutch-Romanian team for Romania’s international community (aka immigrants / expats) and is a lively read. Get stuck in – if you’ve got a story of your own, or know of one that needs telling, get in touch with editor Douglas Williams. And if you can distribute copies (they’re free), let him know that, too.
Dandelions (flowers, leaves and roots) are one of the great stores of nutrition, and free, widespread and delicious
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The meadows all around my house are dotted with splashes of sunshine – dandelions. Heralds of Spring, these little sunny plants are crammed full of nutrients and have lots of healing properties. So don’t curse them, don’t poison them or dig them up… pick them and eat them, make syrup, salves and tea with them. Along with nettles, the first great gift of the natural year.
I came across things to do with dandelions on Pinterest – you can get a free ebook of ways to exploit these wonderful plants, so get cracking!
A couple of days ago I made three new chums, who came to tea here in Magura. Colin (fellow Sussex expat mentioned in the book) brought Rebecca, who’d been housesitting for him in the Saxon village of Bod. Then Marcus arrived with his dad – two more English expats. Both parties arrived in Landrover behemoths, which cope very well with the “roads” round here. Rebecca has written a long blog post about her day, with photos. Have a look.
Romania is on the streets protesting at their new Government of Thieves. It’s the biggest outcry from the people since 1989 and puts the country at a crisis point. Will the corrupt politicians win and drag Romania back into darkness, or will the people prevail and pull the country forward to a new, cleaner, straighter path?
A thorough and very favourable review has been published on the blog cyberculture.ro by George Hari Popescu.
“Cartea pare o colecție de schițe, dar întîmplările se adună frumos, pentru a crea tabloul general al despărțirii autoarei de țara natală și integrării ei în satul românesc. Arabella McIntyre Brown îmbină evocarea cu observația și liricul. După ce explică de ce a decis să emigreze, povestește greutățile prin care a trecut ca să vîndă totul acolo și să o ia de la capăt aici. Ne descrie în detaliu modul în care a renovat micuța casă din Măgura. Ne face părtași la primele ei constatări despre așezare, oameni, satul și statul român. Unele capitole sunt mici lecții de botanică și zoologie, altele sunt scurte lucrări de etnografie și folclor. Aproape fiecare “schiță” se încheie cu bucuria ei de a fi acolo și din volum transpare o oarecare stimă de sină determinată de faptul că a avut curajul de a se muta.
“Cred că veți fi surprinși de faptul că această englezoaică face o radiografie foarte exactă a României și a satului românesc, după cîțiva ani de ședere la Măgura. Mai mult decît atît, veți constata că Arabella McIntyre Brown pur și simplu iubește aceste locuri și se simte integrată aproape perfect. Pe un ton amabil și cald, ea ne îndeamnă în mod subtil să apreciem ce avem lîngă noi și să ne simțim privilegiați că încă avem valori care au pierit de mult din alte părți ale Europei.
Diana Maria Voicu in Bucharest has this to say about the book: “I guess I bought the book out of curiosity – after all, it is impossible to completely see yourself with an outsider’s eye, so it was tempting to have a glimpse of what an English woman has to say about us, from, literally, the heart of my country. And, yes, reading through it, I was not disappointed: a fresh, kind and balanced look at the more traditional Romanian life, its customs and way of living has rekindled my appreciation of what we still have here, in this country that we too often curse. Thank you, Arabella, for that, it is a valuable gift.
But the more surprising gift was the writer’s personal journey, the story of her brave sailing through life, her honesty about faults and suffering, joys and limitations, aging and dying, friends and childhood (you known, childhood – that happy time of our lives which leaves each of us scarred but also builds our character and strengths!).
So I found myself immersed into a dialogue with you, dear Arabella, about solitude, the energy that comes from living close to nature, the joy of being present to the sounds of the forest. Although I have not discovered Magura (or Pestera) through your book, your descriptions and stories, the details about neighbours and animals should rightfully qualify you for a contributor to the branding of the area. A real painter, if you like, in touch with the pure essence of things and beings.
I am looking forward to your next title and wishing that your beloved Magura and the life in Romania gives you the inspiration for many more books!”