In Skofia Loka, we stayed in the large family home of an elderly lady called Mary. She is 86 and had lived in Skofia Loka all her life. She is still totally independent and every Saturday and Sunday she drives to the Stari Grad (Skofia Loka’s castle) and works in the museum as a guide. Of course, if anyone would know about the history and traditions of Skofia Loka, it would be dear Mary!
Mary speaks no English, however, using a lot of sign language she told us about her life and surroundings. She immediately felt like a grandma to us. After she told us that she worked at the castle museum, Mum promised that we would come to visit there.
On our last Sunday morning in Slovenia, we drove to the Skofia Loka castle to look around and visit Mary. As we entered the museum, Mary cried out in joy for seeing us. She welcomed us excitedly, grabbed her handbag and led us towards what she called ‘The Old House’. She looked really pretty in a beautiful blouse and white trousers. A story book grandmother.
As we got closer to an old black wooden cottage, Mary started explaining that it was a historic family home of four hundred years ago. Eight children, their parents and grandparents lived in this two-room structure at the time. She showed us the loft where the bigger children slept on the hay each night, the fire place, the adults’ bedroom (with a crib for the baby), the sewing table, and a special game the children used to play, among a number of other fascinating things.
Mary pulled me towards her and gestured that I should sit down at the table opposite her. She started to explain a game to me that the children used to play. She handed me twelve white beans, she took the twelve brown beans and then she laid out a sheet of paper on the table that had a pattern of dots and lines printed on it. The game was loads of fun and the more experienced player won in the end. It was a precious experience. As we finished the game, she neatly folded up the sheet of paper and used another brown paper sheet to make a sort of cup, or cone and slid twenty-four beans into it. Next, she placed it in my hand with a big smile.
I am sure that we will play this game many more times, and each time we play, it will be a reminder of dear Mary and our time together.
Until next time,