THE ZALIPIE FLOWERS

 The flowers of Zalipie, Poland. A bouquet and sunflowers painted on a white wall.
I am working with the enthusiasm of a man from Marseilles eating bouillabaisse, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you because I am busy painting huge sunflowers.
— VINCENT VAN GOGH

In a village called Zalipie, on the flat plains of the lower Polish farmlands, we experienced a small, but beautiful moment that will forever remain in my memory.

A kindly old lady, while watering her plants, saw that we were wandering around the village, and speaking no English, she came to her gate and simply gestured that we should follow her into her home.

Her house was, like all the others, adorned with painted flowers - wreathed above the windows, and all along the walls. But inside that tiny space, where the ceiling was so low it almost brushed the top of Oliver's head, the flowers burst into a huge array: on every surface, every bowl and spoon, every couch and cloth, every corner, there bloomed some gorgeous element of spring! I was taken aback, having felt a little apprehensive at following this stranger indoors. All my doubt melted away, and I just stood there gazing around me, mouth open...

She spoke to us in Polish, explaining it all in words we couldn't understand. Her smile, and her gestures told us so much more. She offered us food: boiled eggs and mash, then took us back outside to show us the barn and her chickens. Like everything else, the barn was painted with bright flowers, that seemed to make her smile even as she looked at them on that grey winter day.

She was a flower ~ a bright sunflower, with shining face and waving hands. And, just by being so sweet and joyful, she reminded me, a passing stranger on the meadow lane, to smile.

 

 Bright flower details painted on an old brown barn in Zalipie, Poland.
 A bucket hanging over a well, painted with bright flowers, in Zalipie.
 A little wooden fence and wall painted with colourful flower patterns in Zalipie, Poland.
 The sweetest little blue cottage door with painted flowers hung all about - in Zalipie, Poland.
 Looking in at the window - brown and pink flower patterns on a small house in Zalipie.
 A charming little cottage with tiled roof and white walls painted with colourful wreaths of flowers, Zalipie, Poland.
 An old lady who lives in a painted house, with her traditional clothes, in Zalipie, Poland.
 A whole living room painted with flowers - even the tissue box is painted.
 The red brick church of Zalipie, Poland. Seen from the front gate.
 The beautiful church interior of Zalipie - all painted with wreaths of flowers, and the old wooden pews.
 Flower fences at the local school of Zalipie, Poland.
 A church organ sits above the pews, on a painted balcony of bright flowers, Zalipie Church.
 Brightly patterned walls on an old barn window in Zalipie - with orange and red flowers.
Someone was sitting in front of a sunflower, watching the sunflower, a cup of sun, and so I tried it too. It was wonderful; I felt the whole universe in the sunflower. That was my experience. Sunflower meditation. A wonderful confidence appeared. You can see the whole universe in a flower
— SHUNRYU SUZUKI