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The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Vignette 3: After Church

Vignette 3: Painting
Diary Entry: April 22nd, 1894,
            The first leaves have blossomed. Yet, it was in the grass that one could truly see the first signs of spring. Spots of yellow littered brilliantly on a green canvas. It was a bright day, blue and cloudless. The sun was hot,but the air was cold—a reminder of the long winter.
Wanting to take advantage of the weather, grandmother took me to the cemetery to visit my grandfather’s tomb, as it had been four years since Grandfather’s death.
We left our house on a late morning Sunday. Mother and Father were both consumed by work. Mother was washing our linens, as she does every Sunday. Father, on the other hand, had left for Riga early this morning to sell in the market.
We travelled along the dirt roads that rose above the fields of grain. In every field, there were farmers planting the season’s first seeds of grain or hay. The roads were quite dry. Grandmother promised me it was only a short distance to the center of Riga. We reached the Daugava shortly before noon. The spirals of the churches rose above the winding cobblestone streets. We passed by the Cathedral of Saint Mary, and into the square of with the House of Blackheads. There were many merchants selling food, dolls, and clothes.
We hopped on a horse-bound trolley and continued to make our way deeper into the city. The buildings were German-looking, with wide arches, and curved roofs. Lasting towers of the crusaders hovered in the sky, like spears and swords!
Not that much longer, we arrived at the cemetery behind the church. This was my first visit to his grave. Grandmother tells me that he was a very famous writer! We arrived to the cemetery after a long and pleasant walk. The cemetery was in the center of Riga and was very pretty. There were many oak trees that lined the gravel paths.
In the cemetery, there were many people. On the benches, there were men in frock coats and women in large dresses, speaking German.
To our right, there was a more interesting group of people--very simply dressed men, who were reading large newspapers and books. The faces were stern and strong. Their bodies were thick, as if they also had worked lands like Father for many years. They were speaking Latvian.
Behind us, on top of the stairs, there was a Russian official shouting in German, Latvian, and Russian. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but Grandmother told me not to worry about it.
We continued into the cemetery. Most of the tombs had long German names. And Grandmother told me that Bishop Albert was buried somewhere in the cemetery.
We found Grandfather’s tomb, between two tombs with long German names. Grandfather’s inscription read: “Ruhe en Frieden Krišjānis Valdemārs.”
We laid red and white flowers that grandmother bought and said a prayer. We walked home through the golden fields and back to our village.
Diary of Kristīne Valdemārs

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