We had heard tell that it was the custom in days gone by to have a coffin (empty) stored in the rafters of rural dwellings. And sure enough there in an ancient house in an Open Air Rural museum outside of Riga was a coffin – in the rafters of a simple home. While there at the museum, we caught a few moments of a Lutheran service in a wooden church with painted ceiling, scratched around, inside and out, of wooden buildings used by farmers and fisherman and crafts people, buildings housing carts and sledges and memorably – a horse-drawn funeral carriage.
But as we toured the countryside taking in sea and sand dunes, a reconstruction of a medieval castle (circular tower and lots of steps) and a Sacred Oak the large bundles of sticks purched on top of telegraph poles caught my curiosity. Storks nests! The Latvians seem to hold the Storks, now in Africa, in high regard. Never removing nests when poles no longer carry wires and our guides for the day had much to say about the birds in general. Touching actually.
And the rest? After the history and the culture and the national pride, and not forgetting the fancy (many crumbling especially the wooden ones) old city buildings, what remains to mention? A shop where the clothing was sold by weight! The old women begging for money outside of the Russian Orthodox church. Inside the Orthodox church just sitting for a few moments of peace. The way people waited at cross walks for the little green man to light up before crossing. Civic discipline?
And the modern, fresh face, English-speaking young men who will go far. Contrasted with bent over, looking at the ground, old faces carrying heavy history. Theirs and of a nation.
Basically I fly away tomorrow thinking about nationhood. Grateful to have stability in my lifetime, and to live forward with hope.
My thoughts Latvians. Hope on.