ETHEREAL ROSES AND RAINBOWS
I was born in southern part of Austria in the province of Styria. My parents named me Petra. My mother was a gypsy from Poland and father Austrian. Father was a sailor who met my mother while holidaying in Tatras in south-eastern Poland. He saw her in a village pub where farmers gathered after the day’s work in fields. Carefree laughter floated in the pristine mountain land; over glasses of beer tales from grandfathers’ time would be recounted, heroics from Polish wars remembered and the rustic beauty of this sun-kissed and wind swept hardy landscape would reflect in the faces of these simple folks. It was here that my father fell in love. He saw her in the pub enjoying her beer with some friends. He went over to her and asked her name. But she laughed; she laughed with her radiant eyes and her dark hair floated in the fresh mountain air. She was dressed in vibrant, colourful clothes, as is the custom with gypsies all over Europe. She carried in her the freedom of bohemian winds and cascading music of mountain rivers flowing from Tatras. Rather my mother was the sensuous, heady wind that blew across valleys, forests, houses and barns, villages and vales. She was freedom itself. It was this overflowing being of my mother that my father found so enchanting and different from what a settled life breeds in a person with permanent weight of attachment to people and places. It is the freedom from the fear of tomorrow when a person moves all the time, every moment every day is free and fresh as the first dewdrops in the morning. Life is a renewal every moment. He married my mother in the village church and celebrated marriage feast with the villagers. My father returned from his vacation with his bride. He settled her in the beautiful valley in Styria where he had a house, which he inherited from his grandfather’s brother. The house was built with logs and wood from the forest around the house. My father also owned the forest; being part of his inheritance. The house was an old one and had beautiful, carved front door with strange images and symbols. Inside the living room on walls were hanging wooden icons, landscape paintings, and old sea maps from the Habsburg period. My grandfather was also a sailor and Austria had a seaport then in Trieste. Lace curtains covered the windows, which women knitted with their own hands as was common in these parts. There were four chairs and a large sofa covered with bearskins and a heavy carved walnut table. Bookshelf stood in one corner stacked with old, yellowed, and yellowing books. There were two large comfortable bedrooms on first floor, furnished with spacious comfortable wooden beds. The bedrooms had a fantastic view of the forest and the valley. Rising sun would bathe the valley in soft crimson yellow, the birds would soar, singing; thus the chaste morning would herald a dew-fresh new day. The kitchen was large and comfortable. A big wood-fired stove, erected in the middle helped circulate warm air in the harsh winter. A mahogany dining table stood closer to the wall surrounded by eight chairs. It was here that my mother baked her first fresh bread after her marriage and cooked for her husband and for us later when I arrived.