June, the Midsummer thoughts

Nothing can stop flowers from blooming! Not pandemic, not wars, fights, struggles and bad economic times; not even people who are not fine with where they are and what they are. The symphony of colors flows over the backyard making the adorable petal shapes the best artful creation there ever was. To hold one’s breath and to simply adore something which is way better, more complete than humans. The nature.

Midsummer and June: the fantastic time of the year. Although, flowers were rushing, the rich and lush green is embroidered with bright colors of scattered blooms under the pure and clean sky where white and happy clouds sail towards the sun. Standing in the middle of it, my heart says to just stop doing whatever I am busy with, and look around.

So many summers have blossomed away! Latvia is always in my memories when June comes around. It would be great to spend this time over there, more than 8 thousand miles away, across the ocean.

We went a few times to the Canadian Latvian community place called Sidrabene which translated would be like “silver lined spot” on this earth. We wanted to see what Midsummer celebration looked like there, and it was interesting, but not the same what people can experience in Latvia. Singing, dancing, beer and the special caraway seed cheese were included. Singing in the second part was mostly in English, and the Latvian accents of those who at least tried to say something in Latvian had a strong English note, too. Well, obviously, many of these Latvians have lived in Canada since early childhood or are even born here.

Latvians have numerous folksongs which have travelled to nowadays mostly verbally without writing them down. In the 18th century, enthusiasts started to categorize and collect them and eventually compile in enormous volumes. It is said that every Latvian has his or her own folksong. As I have explained in previous years, Midsummer celebration in Latvia is probably the most fantastic event with traditions going back for many thousands of years, so are the folksongs. We can sometimes wonder what does one or another thing actually mean, so unusual it sounds.

Wherever I would live, whatever I would do, I remain in my heart a Latvian. Part of this tiny (all Latvians, scattered around on the globe, would not fill even a third of city of Toronto), tough, hard-working, wise nation which stays very close to nature, opening its ancient soul to song, dance, arts and everything that is beautiful.

Our roots go deep, and in this technologically advanced century we still are admirers of ancient traditions, handmade outfits, jewelry, herbal medicine and help of the Universe as we walk through the life. The knowledge which comes to us from people who lived many thousands of years ago and whose names remain unknown, makes Latvians very specific, very charismatic and talented people. If one comes from a tiny nation, they simply have to master many languages, many skills, and to stay determined, or otherwise the big global forces will smash us.

I will attach a few links from the most unique event which will celebrate 150 years in 2023: the Latvian Song and Dance Festival where tens of thousands of people from kids to very old ladies and senior citizens join in songs and dance. Every region has its own colors, costumes and they all shine during this festival.

The famous Latvian song and dance festival, a few glimpses
To my native land, watch at piano, the best Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls, lyrics by Janis Peters, a very much loved Latvian poet

Enjoy the midsummer and stay close to nature!

36 thoughts on “June, the Midsummer thoughts

    1. Thanks so much! Today is the Latvian Midsummer celebration, I feel I am still part of it, although, far away.
      Latvia is a wonderful place to visit. It has managed (especially the rural areas) to stay away from chemicalized and artificially enhanced food. Milk goes bad in 2-3 days, whipping cream in 2. The real things, they act as real things. It’s worth to try any Latvian foods. My second favorite season is wild mushroom picking time which will start soon and go until the first frosts. There is no comparison between these mushrooms here and the ones you pick in the forest over there!
      There’s so much history, everywhere.. Riga, the capital city, was founded 1201. Many streets in the Old Riga part still have parts or entire first buildings. There are numerous castles all around Latvia, nature parks and all are freshwater lakes, etc. with their inhabitants.
      Very worth seeing and experiencing. I hope to be in Latvia for the 2023 celebration of 150 Song and Dance Festival.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Celebrating 2023 in Latvia would be amazing. Diasporas are difficult for people who remember their country. But what is amazing about diasporas is that they bring new traditions, ideas and culture to to other parts of the world. Thank you – sending hugs!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s true. It would be impossible to forget the native country because I arrived to Canada almost at 50, that’s quite up there. Amazing how that happened since I never intended to, had to be back at work and they were really upset when I told I wouldn’t be.
        Latvians are few in Canada. In Ontario, the Latvian Center is quite far away, so, I’m not that often there. In Ajax, I don’t know about any single Latvian. Being a Latvian Canadian isn’t easy. I’m here singing on my own along with the Latvian radio. My husband is Canada born, real Canadian, but way better than an average one, LOL, so he knows a lot about Latvia, but doesn’t speak that very difficult language.
        Have a nice evening!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for sharing about the Midsummer celebration in Latvia! I just read another blog from Norway and they also have huge celebrations, so wonderful! I wish we had more celebration here in the states, it’s a wonderful time of year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tiffany!
      In Latvia, this celebration is a natural follow-up from what people always had there. As far as I can recall, we always celebrated Midsummer which is called “Līgo” (sometimes translated as swaying as when tall grasses are swaying in the wind and spelled with long “ī” as would be “ee” in English) on the night of June 23, and women who are named “Līga” have their names’ day on June 23. All songs have the specific “Līgo” at the end of each line. One can also make up their own song which I did and published on Facebook today, in Latvian.
      Names’ days or Angel’s day is much celebrated in Latvia, too.
      Then, there is the next day on June 24 called Jāņi day, Janis is name of many Latvian men, and they wear oak leaf wreath while all women wear all kinds of wreaths made of flowers.
      We always had the special cheese, and beer, and the fire, singing and dancing. There are special foods and special traditions for these days.
      Everybody knows songs by heart, so everybody can join in singing. In socialist times, it was not always allowed, but we still celebrated. There are numerous superstitions and legends, tales which come from who knows when.
      It’s a natural celebration, not specifically organized or created, but always happens. Nowadays, obviously, it is somewhat commercialized. In Canada, I cannot have much this year, not even my homemade caraway seed cheese, but it’s ok. This is such a happy and wonderful time!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They certainly do. This time, I was simply emphasizing how much people still honor simple singing, folkdance and handcraft. It’s pretty much unlike here where I am where everything is devices, virtual and online. No personal touch, no real experience. I think people want to be in an imagined world which has nothing to do with reality.
      I’d love to post on art blog, too, but spending my days trying to book or find vaccine appointment. The system for getting an appointment is always overloaded, you sit and wait for hours and then they say: no appointments available. Very frustrating. I needed to be in Europe on July 9, now I most likely won’t because cannot get the second dose.
      I suppose, summer is nice where you are. It’s nice here until July and then second half of August is great, but in the middle, there is high humidity and extreme heat.

      Like

  2. Thank you or sharing part of your country and culture with us. I missed the U.S. when I lived in the Marshall Islands for two years. I was so happy to be back and still to this day am grateful for all I have here. I hope that you will be able to visit Latvia sometime and make a few more memories to carry with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ashley!
      I will definitely go to Latvia to visit my family and friends since all of them are over there: my daughter, grandchildren, sister, her kids and grandchildren. I am the only onw in Canada and my family here consists of my husband, and that’s it. I used to go every year while mom was alive, but then, pandemic started and I haven’t been since March 2019, mom’s funeral.
      I have lived in Latvia much longer than I have in Canada so far, but the number of years is getting up, it will soon be 20 here.
      I think it’s impossible not to miss something which is a big part of us, just like the land we call our native land.
      Thank you very much for your comment and have a good evening!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! We were very close. Sometimes, I believe she chose not to experience pandemic.
        I needed to be there on July 9, but, unfortunately, couldn’t get the second dose appointment. Tried and tried, but this booking system we have in Ontario, clearly isn’t working.
        Maybe some time later, but I will have to miss the July 9 event.
        Thank you very much, Ashley!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much!
      I certainly hope so, too, because it’s going to be magnificent, even more than 20,000 singers. The feeling is fantastic and I actually had some tears in my eyes, it’s so overwhelming.
      I really needed to be in Latvia on July 9, but that won’t happen now. I cannot book the second dose, there are no new appointments. I think our province handles this not good.
      Have a very nice weekend!

      Like

  3. What a magnificent tribute to your country and people. It makes me wish to see it and join in the celebration myself. How homesick you must get for such a beautiful and lasting homeland.
    Do you happen to know or recommend any books on traditional Latvian folklore or songs? It sounds deeply fascinating.
    Thank you for sharing this, Inese, traditions are very important.. They honor where you come from and I think this post shows your love for your home country splendidly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Latvian folklore is fascinating. Due to its nature that they have been given from generation to generation without writing them down, I don’t think there’s much which has been translated into English, for example. It’s also so that language used in these folksongs is so different from the neutral modern Latvian language that it is hardly possible to translate any of them. Almost each word would require a description and context.
      The other thing is that it is a verbal monument to the Latvian history and it documents the ancient lifestyle, religious and lifestyle, as well as esthetic concepts.
      One person who studied these folksongs and did not assume that “nettle dresses” and “apple tree vests” or ” oak linens” and similar were just poetic metaphors, discovered how to make real fabric from fibers of nettle, many trees, many grasses. The fact is that ancient Latvian didn’t use only animal skins and leather to dress themselves: they used all kinds of plant and tree fiber! Now, along with that came the discovery that wearing nettle fabric cures some diseases and really eliminates many health problems, like headache when wearing a nettle headband. I know some companies have already started to use this knowledge to make profits.
      My point is that all Latvians did was deeply rooted in nature. That probably allowed then to withstand all attempts to destroy the tiny nation by large powers, and there were so many who came to conquer this small country at the Baltic sea.
      That in turn, has created the strong Latvian DNA which is a mix of numerous races and nationalities. nature has shown: the more, the better. Like garden weeds: indestructible.
      I doubt there are many books in English about the Latvian folksong apart from scientific research articles because translating them makes them flat and they lose all impression. Anyway, the link I found is this: https://www.mqup.ca/linguistics-and-poetics-of-latvian-folksongs-products-9780773506619.php
      Thanks very much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow. That’s so deeply fascinating. I’ll have to see if I can find out more online. I love folktales, legends, and myths based on real life.
        I can see how such a connection to nature and what it offers, would enrich a people. All of our base needs are supplied for us by the natural world, everything else is just convenience. Learning to hunt, our teacher, he was Very strict about everything from the animal being used, nothing left to waste, otherwise you’re disrespecting the animals sacrifice. We should be grateful for what we have all around us and so many traditions exist to remind us of that.
        I’m ranting, I apologize.
        Thank you for the link, I’ll be sure to check it out! 😊
        You’re very welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. To be great and live healthy, all we have to do is avoid chemically enhanced and synthetic things which is pretty much the biggest part of a health food store goods.
        Natural in my opinion is just as it is in nature, nothing removed, nothing added because that offers the perfect balance.
        Our life requires everything way more natural, being closer to the nature and to the ground also. Lots of people have to or simply choose to live in high-rises, and that’s a big issue already. The more distance from the ground, the more impacts of all kinds of waves from electromagnetic to radiation, etc. Plus, devices all around, plus pollution of the air. How not to get mentally impaired or sick when one lives in such conditions? Now, lots of people never turn off music or podcast, or news, or TV. That is all doing something, and it’s not a good impact.
        Most of grocery store foods are also enhanced, fortified or modified. In Canada, there is no natural dairy, none. Everything is modified. Growing one’s own vegetables at least gives some small benefits because that part is clean, grown in clean soil without any chemicals.
        I’m not saying we have to return 200 years ago, but, basically, we have to stop improving nature which is what most companies do: make nature better. More is not better when it comes to minerals, vitamins, basic salts, enzymes, hormones, etc. in a human body. Numerous mechanisms work very hard to keep this all in balance, yet, we are doing everything to destroy this balance.
        Well, I could never hunt or utilize an animal which I have seen growing up, just couldn’t. I’ve been pretty much starving for a few weeks back in Latvia sometimes, but then I was surviving on mushrooms, wild berries, a few plants which were already good to consume, etc. I do eat a little meat products, just do not like beef at all or large chunks of meat products like ribs and steaks. That causes me to lose any appetite. But small fish is great, I could probably do some fishing if the worst came to worst. LOL. I hope we won’t have to do any of this.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I didn’t know that Cananda had no natural milk.. that just makes no sense to me.
        And living and eating cleaner doesn’t mean going back, it just means adjusting. There is absolutely no reason for everything to be processed and bleached and modified until it no longer offers your body anything of value. It’s no wonder so many suffer from one thing or another when you can’t even say what’s In your food.
        All I can picture is a dog shaking off fleas. I can’t help but think that nature will tire of our disregard eventually.. if it hasn’t already.
        I’m not much of a gardener but having your own fruits and vegetables, untouched by pesticides and chemicals, is worth it.
        And I’m lucky I know how to clean and skin animals, I just can’t kill them, which isn’t helpful.
        I agree.. I hope it doesn’t get to that point. I feel that in the future(hopefully a long, long time from now) there will be reprecussions for our misuse of the planet.. but there’s really no way to know.
        Fingers crossed that we’ll find a balance!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m not sure how long you can use a pack of milk, but if it’s like a month, it’s also modified and enforced, improved (everything taken out and then some things added back). Basically, whichever product has “added” or “free” means changes have been made. Natural milk and cream go bad within 2-3 days. We have everything lasting forever in Canada. When I visit Europe, Latvia, I forget about that and usually run in some troubles. I don’t use milk at all, except when it’s an ingredient, like in pancakes. We wouldn’t have milk here if it was natural because it would go bad before it gets on shelf.
        It’s interesting how we always want to improve what’s good enough. It was never so that if you consume more synthetic vitamins or the ones which are called “natural”, but come in a capsule or as a tablet, you will be doing better. Balance is the keyword here, as we know well by now, and every natural plant, fruit, vegetable, grain, etc. have all contents in balance and they always come as a set. The composition in every natural plant or vegetable is already perfect. We can never overdo eating these things as they come.
        When it comes to animals, I wouldn’t be able to touch them, for that I really prefer grocery store packed up slices, better something small. Maybe I mentioned I don’t like steaks, or ribs or big pieces of meat. I don’t like the look of them.
        The worst product is the so-called plant-based meats. 100% processed lab mixes which have nothing real, nothing natural, only chemicals derived from either soya or peas in the form of processed lecithin. Usually such plants are genetically modified. For the human needs, naturally occurring lecithin is enough.
        It’s kind of weird that people are taking mountains of supplements, but where are the benefits? Once balance is destroyed, it’s hard to get it back, and that’s what happens.
        Lots of products have added fiber, no wonder demand for laxatives is high. That type of thing: overdo with one, something else is affected.
        It’s hard to know what Earth will be 100 years from now. There will probably be only artificial food since overpopulation is huge and good lands and clean water, as well as clean air decrease accordingly to the increasing density of people who inhabit some area.
        Feeling real bad after the second dose.
        Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Wow.. you learn something new every day. I know over in Europe milk wasn’t as readily available as the states but, I’m lactose intolerant so milk products aren’t a big ticket item at home.. But, honestly, you just don’t think about how ‘natural’ what we we’re eating is until it becomes necessary. Overseas, you have the food markets.. I miss them the most, you just can’t get the same quality of fresh fruits and vegetables here.
        I’m not interested in seeing the future of food for humanity, it’s only becoming less appealing.
        And it’s hubris to think we can replace everything natural with lab creations and it won’t effect our bodies. We can’t just add and replace what we need with a handy pill.
        I hope you’re taking it easy, then, and feel better soon!
        Thank you. 🌹

        Liked by 1 person

      6. It’s difficult to describe how huge the differences are between the food over there and here. I tried doing that while I was travelling in Latvia in 2017, 4 years ago:
        https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/09/13/worth-writing-a-novel-about/
        I’ve been always big on picking wild mushrooms, and the taste!!!
        I had taken some pictures with both edible and poisonous mushrooms, just because the looked very good, but we love wild mushrooms in Latvia, everybody who can goes picking them. This I also posted 4 years ago, in 2017. Forests remain very clean for the most part and it’s a good place where to get your wild berries of all kinds and wild mushrooms:
        https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/09/18/looking-for-wild-things-in-the-wild/
        https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/09/18/looking-for-wild-things-in-the-wild/

        Liked by 1 person

      7. It’s quite a difference! Freshly picked is always the best. I remember my sister and I munching on wild onions and blackberries growing up, we were lucky, they grew everywhere. Things were so different and it only makes you realize how much more will change still.. in another twenty or thirty years will natural food even be available? Who knows.
        Fortunately, there are still countries and places that stick with the old ways, and we’ll just have to hope it’s enough for now..
        Thank you for the links, I will check them out! 🌷

        Liked by 1 person

      8. You are certainly lucky you’ve experienced that!
        It’s getting worse with all fields and forests turning into suburbs.
        Let’s say right now I’m growing my vegetables where previously was grass. Wherever I move, I start my garden in a field of grass because that’s what Canadians grow here. The worst is they plant park trees around the house which later destroy the base of house, like birches, maples, oaks, spruce, etc. People somehow do not realize that trees grow. They grow quite fast and become huge. I haven’t seen here a single apple, cherry, pear or plum tree which we would have in Latvia.
        I usually take rare plants with me. I found such rarity in a very neglected garden as European gooseberry. I have first berries this year, love them! The others were redcurrant shrubs. I quickly got a side branch rooted, so, this year I also have the first berries from my own redcurrant shrubs. It was only once when I saw these shrubs here in Canada, I will be taking them with me if I move. Excellent, juice, in jam, etc. They make for better juice than cranberry.
        Everything natural regardless of how much we’re trying to preserve it, diminishes. Unfortunately.
        I have lots of articles here, praising the natural and often mentioning Latvia.
        Ever travel to Europe? Stop by in Latvia, too. Alone the old town and all the castles all around Latvia are worth it, not to mention the nature reserves. Oh, they are old. Riga takes origins in 1201, but that’s when it was a big town already, castles are full of ghosts, and I honestly have experienced some crazy events while living in an ancient mansion, as well as old buildings. Ghosts exist, I know that much.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Hey, I’m just surprised the grow trees.. we’re getting better about that down here but, still, it seems like the popular opinion is to just cut it all down.
        Congratulations! I’ve never had a gooseberry but they sound lovely!
        This is the first place we’ve lived where we’re able to have our own plants and I’m really enjoying the wild blackberries and Asian pears.
        I would Love to visit Latvia, we did travel some of Europe but, it would take a lifetime to see it all. Maybe one day!
        I won’t disagree.. I believe ghosts are real, as well. I’ve seen enough to believe.
        Have a nice night and I hope you’re feeling better!

        Liked by 1 person

      10. This is the first time we’ve have any kind of yard where we live.. so we’re only now getting to experience any kind of gardening. It’s been.. interesting.
        I think it’s really incredible that you leave a little more life and growth everywhere you go.
        Have a beautiful weekend, Inese!

        Liked by 1 person

      11. It sure takes time and work to create a garden or even small backyard beds. Unfortunately, I have to leave everything behind and always start from scratch at a new place again. It’s usually a field of grass, sometimes the soil underneath is ok, sometimes impossible.
        There was the property appraiser this morning here. It’s unclear whether they’ve decided to sell or something else. I was looking at this gorgeous garden and thinking that I probably won’t bother in the next place something of this scale. It took me 2 years to get where I am. 2019 I only had containers, we moved by July 1st, so it was late for many plants. In 2020, I got soil and created beds. This year, everything is at its full potential. It’s unknown how about the next year.
        With renting, you just never know. In this area, all even shabby houses go at million and higher. They have lots of flaws, bad layout, low ceiling, rooms are deep and quite dark. A few rooms are tiny, they’d be fine just as 1 room. Privacy is an issue because neighbors are extremely close and they watch whatever I do, so I’m bordering their views with plants that grow fast and string up.
        In the States, house prices are much more realistic when I compare. When we had a storm, lots of new-built houses simply flew away and fall apart.
        Good luck with your backyard, it’s a wonderful thing to invest in, especially, if it’s your place.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Lavinia!
      Flowers and vegetable garden are doing very fine, we had heat, rain, then normal, then rain, so it’s working out just as needed.
      It looks like I won’t get this summer to Latvia, I’m still trying to book the second dose and it’s abnormally difficult in Canada. I’ve spent hours and hours chasing the appointments, just no luck booking one so far. They really haven’t put much thought in organizing the vaccination here.
      I hope to attend the 2023 event, that will be magnificent. The 2018 event had 20 thousands of singers on stage, I think the 150-th anniversary one will have even more. Plus, the audience knows these songs by heart and sings along.
      We are not hearing much about the States now, except, Florida tragedy. I suppose being on a farm is better in any weather, hot, rainy, cold or dry. You can manage everything better than, for instance, when living in a high-rise in the middle of a city. Living in the countryside or close to nature is very beneficial for mental and physical health. You have your lovely pets, too, not to mention music! I just hope everything is fine and summer is good at your farm. Happy 4th of July! I believe it’s a big day for American people.
      Stay well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Each state handled its own Covid restrictions and vaccinations. Oregon did a very good job with organizing vaccinations, as best I could tell. Rick and I have had our vaccinations in March and April. I know boosters will be coming, but the timing is unknown.

        I hope you can get back to Latvia in 2023 for the event. Wishing you good health and happiness, Inese.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. All my relatives in Latvia also got both doses quite a while ago, like you in March and April. I got the first dose in April and there’s no way to book the second dose. I mean, when it comes to such things Ontario is a mess. basically, most vaccines go to Toronto, suburbs get hardly anything. I am honestly tired of spending so many hours either trying to book on website or calling them. Then you wait and wait and it’s all the same: no appointments. I’m losing customers, I am losing the chance to use summer for outdoor painting, just because of no second dose. Just a minute ago told a lady I have no idea when I can restart. I will keep trying next week again.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks Lavinia! I don’t think anybody who has not gotten both doses can travel. I’m not really close to the border.
        It’s the local government which makes decisions and they just added kids to get their second doses (who knows why) and there are not enough Pfizer vaccines. They tell people to get any vaccine as a second dose, however, I don’t think so. I’m waiting for Pfizer. Also, we do not get the second dose after 28 days, it’s whenever it’s available. They’re saying Pfizer shipments were delayed, etc. Well, Canada is big, many provinces, and Ontario really hasn’t done a good job in distributing these vaccines. All I can do is try again and wait.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for good thoughts! Well, I suppose, as soon as they deliver more I can hope to get it, probably after July 19, it said as if more Pfizer doses would be arriving.
      Oh, I’m so tired of just being at home, haven’t left it for almost 2 years now. We had this very strict and very long lockdown, so one really starts to long for meeting other people. Husband works a lot and o I’m mostly in the backyard or indoors. Thankfully, there is at least backyard.
      I appreciate you tried to figure out how to help with the vaccines! I always liked American people, all have been very nice to me! Take good care of yourself and pets!

      Liked by 1 person

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