“The path to my mother’s house…”


This is my grandmother’s village in the Czech Republic, the year she left for Canada. She was born in small house still standing on a road along the Lomna River, this river. My current work-in-progress is about her, the Czech Republic, wine, and what we know and don’t know about the past. A few weeks ago, John and I were gifted with tickets to a wonderful recital by the young Hungarian pianist Zoltán Fejèrvári, a beautiful programme of Schumann, Bartók, and Janáček. The short encore was one of the pieces from the cycle, “On an Overgrown Path”. It made me cry. I thought I was hearing something close to my family story and in a way I was. Janáček was born in Hukvaldy, not very far from my grandmother’s village. “On an Overgrown Path” is based on Moravian folk-songs and the title comes from one song with the opening line, “The path to my mother’s house is grown over with weedy clover.” It’s a bride’s song, a young woman remembering her life before marriage. I’m listening to the cycle now,  played beautifully by Radoslav Kvapil. I’m hearing my grandmother’s story, her memories of her mother’s house, the anguish she must have felt at the deaths of two children (two pieces allude to the death of Janáček’s daughter Olga), the sound of the little night owl in the Mionsi forest. I wonder if she passed this part of the river as she left Horni Lomna forever with her five children, on her way to Antwerp, then Saint John, and eventually Drumheller where her husband was waiting. When I look at her mother’s house, I imagine it in her dreams, as it is in mine.

my grandmother's house
Hers was the house at the top right of this photo.



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