Not Great Grandma’s Babushka

I just had to touch these headscarves on sale in Warsaw. I’d seen them many years before, in the Polish neighborhood in Amsterdam, New York. Old ladies wore them to church. I fondled them in Warsaw and Gdansk and in the touristy market in Zakopane. Nostalgically, regretfully.

I wrote one of these scarves onto Regina’s head in my novel. But last week in Wroclaw, I saw a panorama of the year she was thirty. Peasant women wore headscarves of plain white. Oh well. I must be historically accurate.

I learned her village, Wojtowa, was about 100 km from Krakow, a half day drive each way, and decided not to go, in the 35 C temps and humidity, to a place where nobody from my family is left. I did travel through many little towns and villages and collected information and pictures.

The trip is so recent, however, that I’m not in mind of her world as much as I am of the Poland of today. I’m so proud to be connected genetically to these strong, brave people, to the heroes and heroines of Solidarnosc who started the toppling of Communism in eastern Europe, to the music in Kashuby that brought tears of recognition, and above all, to the overarching hopefulness of the people, young and old, happily building homes and roads and their first true democracy.

I’m rooting for them, heart and soul.