Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Povitica on Wheels

Yesterday, Melanie and I took slices of Povitica to 6 Elders in our community.  Three are in the Nursing Home (1 has Alzheimers) and 3 are living at home.  The latter is a fact of which I am personally exceedingly grateful. I had not known 2 before, although they surely connect with my family, especially my Dad.  That was 5 stops and we surely could have found other things to do after a very busy Holiday time.  But these visits took us to magical places we had not visited before.  They gave us energy and it came right back to us again.

Povitica is a Croatian Nut Bread which the old ones (and those before) with Croatian ancestry (or via marriage) would have made and enjoyed greatly in years past.  Given the right connection, it is a gateway into vibrancy of culture and story.  Memories are stored in food: who fixed it, how they fixed it, who ate it, what life was like in the swirling world around.  This elemental connection goes being just eating to fuel our tanks.

I wish you could have seen Marie, who is increasingly compromised and, from her wheel chair, sat over plates of pushed around food.  She took that slice of Povitica and put it right into her mouth.  "Now this is food," she said.

For me, on some level, it is almost "medicine".  It nourishes heart and spirit.  I give it because something inside me (or far greater than me) just knows it is right.  I give it as a means of honoring Elders and story.  I also give it as a means of letting folks know that we know its importance and we are not about it to leave it (or them) behind.

Conventional culture with its emphasis on high speed and fads has been insistent in leaving these treasures behind.  Previously, such foods would have been markers of considerable prowess and caring.  Few, if any, in families of modern time know how to prepare them. Elders bear witness to a world which has left (or tried to leave) them behind. Consequently, people who follow do not know who they are.  Many superficial things (not the least of which is materialism) are put in its place.  They provide neither comfort nor will they endure.

When we take such treasures to Elders, sharing touches places which are deep and rich, even when we visit people we have only known from a distance.  Stories emerge.  Connections which I had not known before are made and strengthened.  Depending on who I visit, tears, smiles, and laughter are offered.  Pictures may be carefully carried out of their home places and shared.

Yesterday, one of the women talked about how she had loved my Grandmother Dora Budiselich Bloskovich who passed in 1966.  That's a big deal for me, because I never really felt I knew her.  She did not speak English. My Mother (who was English and German in heritage, as well as Protestant) and her 2 children seemed to represent all the things which this culture had tried to take away.  My relationship with Grandma Dora was at the very least complex.  My child's mind put my own spin on it while trying to make sense of something that did not make sense.  And yesterday, I found someone who might be able to offer glimpses into other parts of Grandma Dora's life.  You could call me a thirsty woman on a desert path.  I will be back.

In the instance of the man who has Alzheimer's, it is difficult to know what if anything might be stirring on the inside.  I guess I just have to trust that on some level something was.  I always let his family know when I have made such trips (which are at Christmas and sometimes at Easter).

Normally, I would take the 1st of samples to Elders.  Circumstances last week did not permit.  Melanie had a cold which she had recovered from by the end of the week.  I made Povitica on Friday which was far later than I expected.  On Christmas Eve Day, the Povitica was ready to travel, but it was a difficult day with all of our final preparations to run errands.  Plus, I was well aware that we might "intrude" on family Christmas celebrations which might already be in place.  So we did the best we could and took the Povitica yesterday.

I have often thought that it would be neat to have a bakery/coffee shop in this town which offered some of the old varieties of story which were about the settlement of this place.  Maybe, this early version is one on wheels.  I feel deeply privileged to be a part.  While it took time and energy, we got far more than we gave.

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