As I grew up in the countryside I have always felt a special love for countryside life. Living in modesty, cultivating fields for our own food, helping grandma in the garden and in the fields, getting up early and riding a bike loaded with baskets of fresh vegetables and flowers to the open market. Together with my grandma. Honestly, I miss those days. Even though I live in the city at the moment I am always looking for a chance and free time to escape where my heart feels like at home. To the countryside.
Especially now when spring is treating us so well, revealing its beauty as far as our eyes can reach, I want to be there. I believe most of us like to spend nice sunny day being active, somewhere outside in the nature, taking a walk, biking or like me, on a road trip to the countryside. Probably you already know that I am a road trip girl, following the road and getting “there”. Most of the time I don’t think much of my final destination but just sit in a car and let the road lead me. And you know what? I found it trustworthy. It always brings me where my eyes get lost 😉
Local roads along the countryside always draw my full attention. So many times I have been driving the same local roads. So many times I have been impressed by the beauty along the way. Nature itself, animals, buildings, people or just the sky are there to be noticed. Every season has something special to show us while nature is playing with its magic. And I love to observe ever changing scenery. I know there is always something new to be discovered on the same local roads because my attention gets captured by that specific “thing” at a time. No matter if this might be just a green grass along the way, meadows in the distance, trees or blooming flowers, new or old houses, animals or people, all of those treasures are worth of attention.
However, I have to say that my attention is being constantly caught by simple treasures of an everyday life most of people would not give attention to at all. Somehow, I tend to create my own world to manipulate a daily routine of this fast going world. I like to take my time observing and listening life around me. If I listen I will hear. If I hear I will know. If I know I will feel. And there is a reason why I call the countryside my home. Home to my soul. Where I can listen clearly to a whispering life around me. And I know I will be back there to live in the countryside. One day.
Countryside on my mind. Why? I have found local villages as priceless treasures of our own heritage. Where we did come from, who are our ancestors, how did they live and what did they do for living? What have been left behind? It has been said: “Anyone who owns an old heritage, which remained from our ancestors, has to cultivate it, enjoy it and live from it. It is not honorable to be wasted and consumed without great trouble, but as required by the old law and custom, to leave it there, where he found it.“
I believe that identity that has been created over the history and retained even today by local people is priceless without any doubt. We should all cherish and respect our tradition and try to preserve it as much as we can for the generations to come to carry it on. Natural, cultural and historical heritage gives us an opportunity to see ourselves throughout the time.
“Anyone who owns an old heritage, which remained from our ancestors, has to cultivate it, enjoy it and live from it. It is not honorable to be wasted and consumed without great trouble, but as required by the old law and custom, to leave it there, where he found it.“
While soaking up the tranquility of the countryside I am thinking of the past times left behind.
Kamena Gorica is a small village in the northern part of Croatia, in the Varazdin County (Varaždinska županija) near town of Novi Marof with approximately 200 inhabitants. It looks like a sleeping beauty on the little hilltops that pop up under the spring sun. There is nothing much happening during the winter time except kids playing in the snow visiting their grandparents. But, at the beginning of the spring everything starts to wake up and bloom.
Old little houses (some of them wooden and some made of little bricks) and fields spread around the hilltops, tiny little roads creating kind of a labyrinth around the village are so appealing to my eyes. Up and down the local roads there is still a presence of the past times that has been kept to this day by locals. Most of the people living in Kamena Gorica grow their own food in gardens and fields, breed their animals (chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and cows) and are taking care of their vineyards and woods. It looks like a hard job and it is for sure, but I believe they are living one happy life.
However, I can say that people cultivated more land in past than these days. Younger generations moved to the bigger cities and some of the older people cannot do the land by themselves anymore. Most of the land turned into meadows and some old wooden houses became a nice weekend houses for younger generations. Locals used to cultivate fields with crops such as wheat, corn, flax, buckwheat and hemp. These were most represented agricultural crops and were used for personal use.
The bell tower-chapel in Kamena Gorica is a remain of the late medieval fortress that was a part of the defense system (Grebengrad, Kamena Gorica, Paka, Čanjevo, Kalnik) at the time of the Tatars. On the bell tower there is an old bell (279 kilograms) and was cast in Zagreb in 1811. In the middle part of the bell there are four reliefs – Crucifixion, Holy Family, crowned figure of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in her arms, whose head is also crowned and character of St. Florian in military uniform. In his hand St. Florian holds a pitcher of water and saving the city from fire.
For many years now, the duty of bell ringer diligently and devotedly performs local lady Slava Pupek. She also regularly runs the bell in defense of the storm clouds to protect crops. Before her duty bell was run by her husband Franjo.
Kamena Gorica is well known of its cultural specificities too. Every year at the beginning of summer in June, there is a local manifest called “Fairy playground in front of the bell tower” (Vilinsko igrišće kod zvonika).
“Fairy playground in front of the bell tower” is a very special manifest where the local traditions and customs are passed to a younger generations. During the event, Slava Pupek, warmly welcomes every visitor of the bell tower and happily talks about its history and the legend associated with the bell in the bell tower. According to the legend, the bell was brought from the medieval castle Grebengrad, where there was a chapel of St. Stephen. Local ladies are presenting skill techniques of making wreaths of crepe paper and herbs. Visitior can also indulge themselves in local specialties such as buns and gingerbread of Countess Louise and traditional dish called pera (Grofica Lujza – Countess Louise Erdődy was very famous and prominent figure in this area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is remembered as a great benefactress).
An interesting legend says that Kamena Gorica and the surrounding villages are bind to a belief of mythological beings, especially fairies. Girls from local villages had encountered fairies when they were going out for pig pasture near the Petračeva cave. Fairies would then chose one pig from the herd and called it to them and fed it. The pig would soon spend more and more time with fairies and would eventually stop returning back to herd and home. It is not known why the fairies left the Petračeva cave. After they were gone people entered the cave and had found their pottery and an open fireplace.
Wishing you all an amazing spring day!!!
With love… M