After 24 days of traveling (I can’t believe it! 24 DAYS?!!), I am feeling old and achy all over. And I have finally surrendered to the summer cold that has been chasing me this last week. But when I woke up to a tiny grasshopper on my bed, I managed to catch it without screaming and run to the front door to set it free. And when I opened the door, I was once again overwhelmed by the beauty of this incredible land of my Grandpa Henry William Ludwig.
Despite my achy old bones, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood in Jelenia Gora. Just a few steps from my door are wildflowers I’ve never seen before, apple and grapes hanging from the trees and butterflies. And methinks this city girl needs to get out to the country more often. The houses here all seem to be large with balconies dripping with geraniums and plumerias. One can’t tell where the wildflowers and the potted flowers begin and end. So this morning I was the tourist taking photos of the flora, fauna and the weeds of the exquisite Polish gardens. And I said hello to few dogs too.
Yesterday was my first day back at the Knight’s Tower in Siedleçin (old Boberröhrsdorf). I discovered it last summer when I first came to my Grandpa’s birthplace. I was enchanted by it at once and I have been under it’s spell ever since.
And to be honest, this beautiful old Knight’s Tower built in the the first half of the 14th century by King Bolko I is the real reason I have traveled all this way to Poland. The ducal tower house in Siedlęcin is one of the most important medieval residences in Central Europe. An archaelogical project was started here in 2008 headed by archaeolgist and university professor Przemyslaw Nocun. I was introduced to him via Facebook following my disastrous grand entrance to the Tower grounds last summer. I was absolutely in awe of this stately medieval castle keep and so looking up, I drove through the old gate that looked like the entrance but was actually the ancient remains of the moat. Unawares, my little red car got stuck when I tried to turn around. I had to flag down two British visitors (one with a baby in a Snugli) and the shopkeeper of the gift shop, Monika Filipiñska. I was able to free my car as well become a memorable moment in the life of the Siedleçin Tower. I was now and forever more that American lady who drove on the moat.
Thankfully both Monika and Przemek (prounounced Je-mek as he is thankfully called for short) have become friends of mine. Przemek has taken a special interest in my family and as part of the archealogical project for the summer of 2016, I was invited back. How could I even think of passing that opportunity up?
There will be lots more to come on the history of the Tower and the “dig.” My contribution will be providing the English narratives for the description boards for the Tower and a World War I monument that are now currently only in Polish. (The monument has two names, Oswald Ludwig and Hermann Ludwig, which by all accounts should belong on my family tree, but I still need to provide site sources.) And I will also be contacting a few of their contacts at the BBC in the hope that they could focus some much needed attention on behalf of the Tower.
My first order of duty was looking through old maps provided by the Polish Archives to try to find my great grandfather’s property. I spent more than a couple of hours searching through the old German documents straining to see the name Wilhelm Ludwig. It was sheer heaven for me. And I found his name! But it is just a start…
It certainly helps to have significant good friends in high Polish places. So I have my work cut out for me for the next ten days and I can’t wait to get started. I still can’t believe that last year’s once-in-a-lifetime trip opened so many new and exciting doors. I couldn’t be more fortunate.