Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Never judge a book by its cover.

A pile of hats makes an appearance in the market. €5 each  A man with a white FIAT van stands by them staring at the ground while  smoking a cigarette. He seems singularly disinterested in his hats or the passing shoppers. Next to the hats a stall selling raspberries. €5 a kilo. The farmers wife behind the table has a line of people wanting in front of her. It's already 20 degrees but she's wearing a cardigan just in case it turns chilly.

Sophie continues to work her way through the terracotta flower pots that line the terrace stairs.

An afternoon spent with the Old Farmer. It's his 83rd birthday. He's off to Lithuania again. Not, as we'd thought, in search of  love, but in search of his father. In September 1939 his father left their house in Lille, went to war, and never came home again. The last trace of him was in 1944 in a POW camp in Lithuania . As the Red Army approached the French prisoners were force marched westwards. His father disappeared somewhere along the way. Was he shot , did he die of starvation or did the winter cold finish him off ? The old farmer has found the site of the camp and is going back to see if anyone knows what happened . '' Perhaps someone might remember seeing him ". He's holding a well thumbed photo of a young man in a cavalry officers uniform. 

This morning we hear him set off at four. A private , impossible journey into Europe's turbulent past. The best wishes of his two village neighbours go with him. Just shows. You can't judge a book by its cover.


  1. Raspberries are very good for you and the dogs also. I give mine Raspberry seed powder from Raspex. Blueberries too.

  2. Oh my goodness I feel so sad for the very old farmer, it seems like an impossible and also lonely journey and I think it says a lot that he feels the need to make such a journey at this point in his life. Glad you spent the afternoon with him, you both seem to spread kindness.

  3. Unfinished business. I hope he finds peace.


  4. All the best to the old farmer in his optimistic quest.
    Abundant wild raspberries for free just now round the edge of the little wood where I often take Bertie for a walk after work.
    Cheers, Gail.

  5. I wonder why he feels compelled to do it now. Now or never, perhaps.
    I hope he finds the answer. It will be tragic whatever it is.

    1. Think you've got it. 83 an age for reflection.

  6. Love Sophie's head in the best.

    We wish the old farmer all the best. Seems an impossible quest, but obviously he feels he must know.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  7. I echo the sentiments of everyone on the journey of the old farmer. I hope if he doesn't find the answers he's looking for that he finds peace in knowing that he tried.

  8. The old farmer's quest brought tears to my eyes, and as you pointed out, things aren't what they seemed. I'm relieved it isn't what we thought at first.
    I wish him luck in his quest, and I hope he finds some closure to his dad's whereabouts....his determination is to be admired.
    Maybe it's on his bucket list to find out what really happened to his dad, and now that he's eighty three, I guess it's now or never.
    Will he keep in contact with you and the Font while he's away?

  9. The old farmer's story sounds like the makings of a great story. I hope that he finds out what happened to his father. It would be a terrible thing not to know!

  10. Alan Furst's novels speak to the lives of those caught up in the events your old farmer's father experienced.

    Interesting new perspective on one of the actors in this tantalizing ROF drama.

  11. a poignant post this morning.
    the old farmer and his sacred mission.
    and the picture of the puppy's head in the pot... well. priceless.

  12. Good to see Sophie back to work on her "bucket" list! Prayers and best wishes to the old farmer - I truly hope he finds an answer...yep, we never know, really.

  13. Our thoughts and best wishes go with the old farmer today. May he find what he seeks this time.

  14. No, you certainly cannot.
    Very poignant.
    I wish him well.

  15. Prayers and godspeed to the Old Farmer. And a few tears. Agree on the Alan Furst books, they address people and places largely forgotten or ignored by now. Hope the OF finds enough to answer some of his questions.

  16. That's so touching. I hope that the Old Farmer finds some answers that perhaps give him peace.

  17. With e-books, there are no covers.
    I hate to sound hard hearted, perhapse,on his last trip, he was discussing his past with his lady of choice over a bottle of the local spirit when he piqued his own interest in the matter. Tragic to develop this interest at his advanced age. Who would be of the age to remember the events firsthand let alone a transient soldier.
    A magazine article I read at the bookshop today told of a woman who dug up a pair of U.S. GI dog tags in her garden in Istres, NW of Marseille, in 2001. She presumed the GI had been killed. A friends brother did some research and the dog tags were eventually returned to a 90 year old man living in Newark, NJ, USA. Interesting story, especially today.

  18. P.S. The tags were returned to Mr. Williams 70 years after he lost them.