“You can not imagine how important is place, where people live, how much influence it gives, how is it transforming. Here I am walking every day and singing and I do not miss anything. Of course it is not perfect, but when I came here I felt like “home.“ It is so fine like “at home,“ so fine, so trustful and open. I don’t have any other word than “home.””
– A letter from Hana to her Parents July 19, 1941
(originally written in Czech)
Sine opened the door with a warm smile.
Lauge ran up next to her. I extended my hand and said hello. In his well practiced English, he said "My Name is Lauge."
In 1998, Sine and her husband, Torsten, bought five hectares of land from relatives. For Torsten, it was his first move to the countryside and for Sine, it was a return to her roots. Life on a farm. Prior to that, they had been living in Copenhagen, trucking through city life as so many other adults in their twenties feel as though they are supposed to do. Over 17 years later, their land has quadrupled to over 20 hectares and their flock has come to include horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, pigeons, cats and most importantly, their three smiling, sweet, beautifully spirited children - Liva, Lauge, and Silje. At the time I arrived, they were aged 11, 9 and 4.
The farmhouse, painted white, stood amidst the cold, dry ground of winter. Spots of faded green hinted at what was past and what will soon come. The houses, including the one I had just walked into, and the one I would reside in for the next month, seemed insignificant compared to the vastness of the countryside.
The home was full of life. I took my boots off and let my wool socks graze the cold floor. A fresh pot of coffee was placed on the table with no attempt to try to impress me. It was as if I had always belonged in the natural flow of their Sunday afternoon. We sat around the table - Sine, Torsten, Knud-Arne (Sine's uncle), myself and Sine's mother, Inge-Margrethe, who had come to drop off the girls from gymnastics practice.
Lauge was off doing some science experiment, his daily past time. And, Liva and Silje each gave me a shy smile before leaving the kitchen and plopping themselves on the couch in their dimly lit living room.
I spent a month with the Christiansen Family, fostering a relationship that began in 1942, when Sine's grandparents, Jensine & Arne Nygaard, took in my grandmother as their farm help during the war. For Hana, it was her third foster farm, but the first family to make her feel like she was at home.