10. 05. 97
Story of the attempt at straightening a river in the Brazilian wetland
of Panternas (heard on the radio)
Her son is 49 and builds huge steel bridges in Brazil.
Grandma Maertens visited this place in 1991 for the first time and was
upset on finding it so run-down. It is a mystery to her. "Do they
think we did not have to work to keep the place in good condition?"
But the people of Poel all drank too much, the system is to blame for
it, she can only understand what the fishermen did: they must go out
and deal with the cold. Almost all of them are already dead, swigged
themselves to death. "When I go to the cemetery I see they all
died from alcoholism." The neighbor that's driving Grandma Maertens
is one of the few sober women on the island.
Grandma Maertens called on a woman today, who is turning 90 next week.
On the way home she tumbled for bending her head too far back as her
eye was drawn by the linden trees' green hue. She got a shot and had
to rest. She's got too high blood pressure since she had a pacemaker
installed. She has to keep under observation because of it. She can
no longer walk far or long, not because of her legs but because of the
air, for she's always got to breathe deeply out here. She gets up between
7 and 7.30 in the morning, then it takes her quite a while, at 8.30
Frau … can come and take her. At 10 o'clock a.m. she usually hears
Mass and listens to the radio being hardly able to read the papers.
She gathers rabbit food each day for her daughter, who takes it home
at weekends and gives her mum eggs in return.
She relates how they used to grow rape. They would work round the clock
during the two months harvest lasted as rapeseed can only be gathered
in the moist air of the night. They hauled it off at night too and Grandma Maertens had to sustain truckers' morale with fried spuds and eggs.
11./12. 05. 97
Grandma Maertens recounts that it was extremely important for her to
return to Poel and help rebuild it. She was unable to muck in but her
mere presence encouraged the workers. She is the only one who came back.
She said staying back in Brazil would have hardly become her. She's
lived alone for the past 7 years. She and her husband never quarreled.
Instruction: Grandma Maertens started an apprenticeship as a carpenter
to learn about architecture yet after her father died money failed for
education or trousseau. So she gave up her apprenticeship and married
Grandma Maertens backbites the GDR system. She wonders at the many obese
locals (like her own nephew). She ascribes it to unbalanced diet and
too much lard. She believes the change in attitude and the adaptation
to the new economic conditions will take quite long as 50 years in the
old system shaped people's wonts.
Grandma Maertens is very fond of a biblical psalm that says "have
no fear" and indeed they coudn't afford fear.