Breb revisited

Breb has got to be the most beautiful and harmonious village in Romania. I felt at home immediately when I first visited it in 2014, so I didn’t have to think long where I’d start my travels this year. A walk through the village is never the same. Here are some of yesterday’s encounters.

I got really lucky. On my way back from the shop I stumbled upon this wedding party:

As they passed, one of the guests offered me a bottle. Naively, and perhaps a little stunned, I accepted, hesitantly – and didn’t realize it was țuică (local brandy) until I took a sip. I hadn’t had a drink in over eight months, so it was a bit of a surprise – but a good one.

Then there was this boy managing his horse:

I love how children are part of the community here like any grownup. Their lives have a function, have meaning, right from the start. They have an identity. Seeing this reminds me of Thoreau’s praise of manual labour:

There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter? What does architecture amount to in the experience of the mass of men? I never in all my walks came across a man engaged in so simple and natural an occupation as building his house. We belong to the community. It is not the tailor alone who is the ninth part of a man; it is as much the preacher, and the merchant, and the farmer. Where is this division of labor to end? and what object does it finally serve? No doubt another may also think for me; but it is not therefore desirable that he should do so to the exclusion of my thinking for myself. (Walden, Ch 1, Pt D, p 42-43)

It often strikes me as sad and mistaken that people with some education are supposed to use their heads and forego the use of their hands. What is more beautiful, sensible and honourable than using your mind and your body to create and to sustain?

It also reminds me of Susan Neiman’s Why Grow Up?, in which she poses some interesting ideas about the meaning of labour:

We want to make an impact on the world, but we end up making or selling playthings that are developed to keep us distracted and designed to deconstruct. We have turned the activities that were meant to be the stuff of life into mere means of subsisting in it.

OK, this post is becoming a lot wordier than I intended it to be. Here are a few more sights of Breb – I’ll leave you to enjoy them and hope I have inspired some jealousy in you. You are most welcome to come over and see – and feel – for yourself. La revedere!

And a PS:

The villagers don’t normally work on a Sunday – the sabbath is still holy here. But the threat of a thunderstorm changes everything:

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Want to spend some time in this beautiful village? Check out this post on accommodation in Breb.

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