Sunday, October 18, 2009


Sixty years ago today we sailed in through the Sydney
Heads and as we neared the harbour and the city I
stared in wonder at the hills.
Everywhere there were large patches of pink which
later I learned were Magnolia trees. In more than
half a century Sydney has changed and now is
crammed full of houses where before it boasted
beautiful gardens.

Although the spendour has left the cityscape, my
soul still remembers the exquisite beauty that greeted
my eyes on that auspicious day.

We embarked from Naples on the 25th Sept. 1949, my
13th birthday, little thinking that ten years to the day
later I would be leaving Europe yet again to cross the Atlantic.

My brother and sister had emigrated to Australia a year
earlier and sponsored mother and I to follow. Refugees
had little future in Germany at the time and neither the
USA, which only took young single people, nor Canada which
externded a helping hand to families as well, would take us
as we were encumbered with a person over the age of 45
and another still of mandatory school age.

My little brown cardboard sutcase held all my worldly
posessions, a spare set of underwear, a cardigan, a pair
of two piece bathers I had knitted from scratchy homespun
wool, a sunhat my mother had made for me for the voyage
and the few treasures I posessed, two books and a little
crystal vase and another very little one from Pompeii, my
birthday presents, as well as the little cellophane dolly my
papa had given me on the last Christmas before the Russians
hauled him off to Siberia.
All of which turned to ashes in the major bushfires in 1983.

Memories of the early days welled up of yet another language
to learn from scratch, the time spent in various camps, of people
on public transpost sidling away from one as though smitten
with the plague if one spoke in a foreign tongue on public transport...

When totally out of the blue Ces the wonderful Sunday painter
created this very special award for me.

As if by magic, I was lifted out of my introspective
thoughts and surrounded by the fellowship of the
oak nymphs she has created and made to feel special
for the old and weatherd oak that I am.
Ces, I thank you from my heartwood and will compile a list
of further recpients as soon as I can. Thank you dear
Thanks to the My World team we can all wonder the world at will.


  1. Arija, this is a sad yet beautiful story. You have well earned your oak strength. The beauty of your soul shines through in your writing and spirit. The art on the award is marvelous.

  2. wow... an award named after you.
    no one deserves it more than you do!

    will be visiting often from now on.
    will be looking forward to another amazing posts.


  3. I think, when my magnolia blooms, I will be unable o ponder on IT, but shall think instead of you.....
    and then Ces pushes the ashes away and the sky is bright again!
    How does she do what she does?
    And yes, I am honored to be a recipient of an award named after you. My day is brighter!


  4. Arija, what a beautiful and heart-wrenching story! Such a perfect day for Ces to create your award and infuse your memories with her special touch...

    I feel so honored to be among the recipients of this special award created for you!

  5. Wow! Wow! Wow! Oh my dear, how blessed you are. what a testimony to your life. This speaks such volumes of being determined and strong. You are a rare find my friend. You have such a wonderful story to tell as do all beautiful oaks in the wood. They tell great stories about the life they have lived and all that they have come through. How honored I am that you would even comment on my blog. Ces, sure does know how to pick'em he he he he! The award is wonderful! Thanks for coming by to visit. I am truly honored.

  6. Arija: What a wonderful story and a neat award from your friend. I read it with great interest of your travels.

  7. I love stories--yours is beautiful. I could see Sydney as you did. I wonder if the beauty of my mind picture is the same as what you saw that long-ago day.

    I have always loved Australia. Every since 3rd Grade when we studied your country in detail.

    Congratulations on your award. I love your description of yourself as an old oak tree.

    There is nothing more lovely, or more beautiful than a craggy oak who's weathered history itself.

    I think you are beautiful, too. You are a gifted writer and I agree with Gaelyn--you have a beautiful soul.

  8. Oh hon what a bitter sweet pleased Ces created this for you - how wonderful and deep! Congratulations..deeply deserved..Hugs, Sarah

  9. Fascinating post. It's a shame Sydney is not a city of gardens anymore.

  10. Indeed, Arija, no one deserves this beautiful award more than you. Like the others I am so moved by this painful and yet beautiful story of your world yesterday and today. And, as Gaelyn as said, the beauty of your soul does indeed shine through your writing. Your writing and your photos never fail to move me. Have a beautiful day, my friend.


  11. Just by reading this single post, I understand why Ces has honored you so greatly. Now it is my honor to meet you and call you friend, and to be a recipient of your beautiful award.

  12. What a lot you have been through, Arija, and how your strength and inner beauty shine in your photographs and writing. Such a moving post.

  13. Dear beautiful Italian oak tree,
    You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your beauty with us.

  14. A beautiful post that had me holding back a tear... beautifully wrote Arija...

  15. your post pulled my heartstrings arija. i cannot even imagine uprooting and not having my family all together. beautifully written. hugs to you.

  16. What a very touching story Arija. I'm so glad to learn so much about you. An amazing award, and it goes to such a deserving lady!

  17. Arija, your post today touches me deeply. My husband's grandparents came to this country from Eastern Europe as refugees but I didn't know them. Reading about your little cardboard suitcase and your few possessions brings home exactly what a brave thing it was to start again in another land - and then how precious those few things were and how heartbreaking to have lost them in the fire. Now, all these years later, your wisdom and your love of this earth shines out for all to see, and this is why people flock to your blog each time you post something new. Congratulations on the honour Ces has bestowed upon you, and on making such a success of your life after all the initial hardships.

  18. Touching story of your migration! We moved several times when I was a kid, but only a few hundred miles. I can't imagine what it would feel like to leave all that is familiar behind. The Arija Award is a fitting tribute to your life and the delights from your garden that you have shared with us.

  19. What a wonderful story and I'm sorry that America refused you...our loss. Magnolias are beautiful and what a special memory for you.

  20. Arija, what a story! Sad and beautiful. What a wonderful award Ces has done for you. You have earned it in more ways than anyone can count.

  21. You have a very touching story, I can even picture the magnolia trees. Thanks for sharing your story and your part of the world.

  22. What a neat award and post. I was born in 1946 so you have me by a few years.Always enjoy stories and history of people and places

  23. What an interesting and poignant story. Congrats on the award. It's nice to know that somewhere in the world it is spring. We are going into winter... brrrrrr!
    Thanks for popping by my blog.

  24. I love you! I love you! I love you!
    Oh I was right there with you sitting beside you and giggling at your bathers but more than anything I sat beside you and I felt the love that your wonderful heart is so capable of giving. Shame on me for breaking your introspection, rumination for I would love to read more. Are you writing these stories somewhere else for your children and grandchildren? I remember the day the Lord took your brother away this past summer, when you sent me a note. I was in bed reading. Oh Arija, I am full of goosebumps. You are truly my elder sister and I love you. Now India will know why you were up.

  25. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Congratulations on the award made just for you!

  26. A fitting award as the beauty of your soul and the wisdom of your words brings me back time after time to see what new you will teach me.

  27. what a wonderful story... and the magnolias are stunning..

  28. Oh, Arija, (reading with a cloud in my eyes) what a journey! Now I know how great an oak you are! Congratulations to the award from your sisterfriend Ces. I have seen her art and it is super beautiful.

    Take care always!

  29. Keep blooming like the lovely flowers you posted here :)

  30. Arija, your poignant post brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Smiles and blessings

  31. Wow, amazing story. Various members of my family were carted off to Siberia, too. Beautiful award.

  32. What an amazing journey you have had.

    Be strong!

  33. Earth, Wisdom and Love: the Oak.
    Luiz Ramos

  34. Oh Arija, I marvel at the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. I am imagining you, 13 years old in foreign land and my heart reaches for yours. I am so sorry you lost your childhood treasures in the bushfire, but you still have your memories of those things that shaped you,of the people who gave them to you.
    The mind is our most precious attic full of memory stacks and remembrance boxes tied with soul strings...



    You are truly deserving of Ces award. You courageous woman.

  35. Arija you are the most beautiful person and how I love you.

    Your name is in the draw.

    To have lived all that dear one. All of that. I would be honoured to hear more of your life.

    Love Renee xoxo

  36. Hi Arija,
    Surely you would live well in Peratallada, only has 250 people.
    Wonderful story, Arija.

  37. What an excellent post. I really don't have the words to express how much your words captured. Beautiful and poignant.

  38. What a story!
    From where were You refuging?

  39. I'm so embarrassed that Canada wouldn't take your family in 1949 but pleased to know that Australia accepted you with open arms.

    Sidney must have been gorgeous the day you arrived. It's wonderful that you have such fond memories.

  40. Felicitations Arija ! euh....Congratulations Arija !
    Very beautiful post....

  41. To whoever did not want your company.. it is their great loss.. and little did they know that their thoughtlessness had made you the determined, grand soul that you are today... I salute you, my dear Arija!!!

  42. I am so glad you have shared your story. I pray that it will multiply everyone's thankfulness for the things we so often take for granted.

    A thought struck me as I was reading it. When diamonds are scattered on the diamond merchants table they are beautiful, but they need a setting. He will choose the perfect diamond for the perfect setting. Until you came to Australia, you were like the diamond that was spilled on the table, but the nation of Australia is the place that has shown you off to your fullest, because it is the place that God himself placed you and gave you the opportunity to sparkle at your finest.

    Love Sparrow.

  43. What a post. So interesting. So full of depth and heart. You have been through what I have only read about. (Not that I have any desire to go through that.) Those magnolia trees are gorgeous. I think their heart must be like yours.

  44. To those of you who emathised with my story, I thank you one and all for caring enough to leave your thoughtful and supportive comments.
    My heart, although encumbered with two man-made valves is big enough to fit you all inand a lot more besides.
    As I wander this amazing blogging community, I find so many shining stars, artists, poets, writers , lovers of nature and all those who spread the honey of love thickly on my toast.
    I salute your talents and send you my love.

    Thank you all for being there for each other and for me.

  45. Gel left a comment that did not load up:

    GEORGEOUS photo! I'm sprry the overcrowding has changed conditions.That is sad.

    I have never been in Au, but mu hubs has on a business trip and said the country is every bit asgorgeous and friendly as people say.I hope to go.

    Your life has been full of challenge. I hope your father was released from Siberia.

  46. Gel, my father only survived the gulag because, as a deoctor, he was as important to the guards as to the prisoners. He was released after 15 years and spent the rest of his working life teaching surgery in Siberia. Going back to Latvia was not a viable option.

  47. At first I was glad to finally identify the beautiful tree that I've admired for so long.

    Then I read your story and felt swept away. I am glad you were blessed with a new life and home, like a phoenix, you rose.

    The award is lovely as is your blog.

  48. Arija, this is a rich and tender story that overflows with memories and stirs emotion in me. How lovely that Ces breathed life into this wonderful oak nymph portrait for/of you! I love it!

  49. My heart is heavy reading your answer. I'm glad your father's expertise let him save others, but that does not minimize, in any way, the struggles he endured.

    Congrats again upon your award!

  50. Congratulations on the award. You really deserve it. The short story from your life is interesting and touching. Thanks for sharing. Magnolia flowers are absolutely gorgeous.

  51. I have really enjoyed reading your post, even though your story is kind of sad your description is wonderful written. Thanks for sharing :)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin