Peters Traces His RootsOctober, 1994
The Winds of Time
My aunt Laura was our navigator; somehow, she seemed to pretty much remember where everything was. Even though they had been out this way before to visit Arturs, they hadn't gone looking for where the family used to live. Our next stop was my grandfather's windmill. He started as a miller here in 1888, when he was twenty. It's where he lived, got married, and started a family over the next fifteen years. My mother told me the story from my grandmother about the time my grandfather was up on the windmill sails repairing them and fell off. He survived and miraculously even escaped breaking anything - although I'm sure he cracked a few ribs - he spent the next two weeks in bed, not moving, while he recovered. There's not much left of the old sails, zegeles (zehh-dyel-ess), now.
Inside, the machinery is long gone. The windmill has been turned into a museum dedicated to local personalities. Here's my mom, inside. To the right, you can just see part of a bust of Karlis Sebris, the actor from the theater. The painting of the doctor over on the left is a relative of Anna Priemats (my grandfather's sister-in-law). And the gentleman facing back talking to Laura is the museum caretaker, the son of the man who bought the windmill after my grandfather moved to his next mill.
So this is where it all started. Since my grandfather fell off those sails - a century ago - three or four generations should have passed by, but here I was, a hundred years later and only a generation removed. As I think of him, I sense more than the past; it is, acutely, the history of this place, and in microcosm of this small, intimate country and its simple, upright agrarian roots.