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Solstice sojourn

by on 25 Jun 2011

Thanks for photo contributions to this post from Andres Uus, Kelley Sullivan and Arek Kryda.

Stay tuned for an update on our progress on the synagogue later this evening.

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Last Tuesday, June 21, was the Summer Solstice (which fell at 7:16 PM in Poland). Our friend Skansen Architect Arek Kryda invited the timber framers out to his place for a Solstice bonfire, an ancient tradition in this part of the world, as it is in many. We hired a bus for the occasion, collected the crew at our two hotels and lit out for the territories.

Adam checks out the porch furnishings

The land in this part of Poland is cut into ranges of adjacent valleys by parallel ridges running from northwest to southeast. If you climb the ridge behind Sanok and follow it south and east, you eventually find yourself looking down at Arek and Ania’s farm.  After meeting the family (wife Ania, daughter Julia and son Mikolaj), exploring their handsome Carpathian style log house and getting a brief explanation and demonstration of paragliding, the timber framers crossed the road to Arek’s mom and dad’s and met his father in the farm yard there. Then we headed up the ridge on foot and via four wheel drives and tractors, with Arek’s father ferrying riders up in an ancestral Eastern Bloc version of a Land Rover.

By the time we reached the top of the hill, the sun was setting along the ridge, well north of west. Cresting the ridge we met a stiff head wind. We roughed out a fire pit by the edge of the woods to the northwest, sheltered from the wind, gathered firewood as the sun went down, then built a roaring fire, roasted kielbasa and raised our glasses to the season, our project and to good fortune and good friends.

Arek takes a short ride across the yard

Looking up to the ridge from Arek’s front porch

Looking back down into the valley from the ridge

Julia makes a bouquet

Looking over the ridge to the southwest at sunset


The Solstice celebration was my second visit to Arek and Ania’s farm. The first time I was also treated to a trip up the ridge, followed by the full moon rising fully eclipsed at sunset, a wonderful dinner washed down with prizewinning beer and a restful night in the beautiful log house. But as memorable as these times were, it is the place, and of course the people, that stay with you. All the more so given the history of the Kryda family on both sides, generations of which survived wars, occupations, and wholesale forced displacement of populations, finally to close the circle that led Arek and Ania back to the same valley where their ancestors had lived.

We call ourselves timber framers, but at bottom our success is measured and our legacy made as placemakers. Does the work we do leave the world a more beautiful and functional place? When you open the door to the space and step in for the first time, is there a small involuntary intake of breath. Does it make you smile?

OK, these are some pretty high hurdles, but you get the drift. The best work is animate in some indefinable way, it has a life of its own, one that speaks subliminally to those that inhabit the place. To stand Gertrude Stein on her head, there is very much a there there.

So the Kryda farm holds a special place in my heart, as a last homely house, a place definitive of home. Another lesson learned in how to do better at what we do. I expect I am not alone in this.

Thanks to Arek and especially to Ania for tolerating this latest invasion by successive waves of timber framers, both as single spies and in battalions.

To close, a few more pictures of the farm and its steward in other seasons and pursuits.

Winter milling

Traversing the farm from ridge to valley

Arek and Mikolaj


From → At Large

One Comment
  1. Shan permalink

    What beautiful children…

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