Paradise = 14 ha of Devil’s land

Road to Paradise. Credits Gvidas Pocius

I would have never thought that Wikipedia might be a source of inspiration, but that’s what happened. While browsing its Lithuanian version in search for the meaning of “paradise”, I found myself at a crossroads (or disambiguation, as wikipedians call it):

Paradise in Heaven

or

Paradise in Lithuania?

The latter one seemed to me a bit fresher as an idea, and my feeling didn’t lie. Here goes the story, just listen.

Paradise does exist…

…and it has all the necessary: a creator, a devil, an apple tree (more than 1), and souls (less than 10). It is located in a tiny village, a hamlet really, in the eastern part of Lithuania. It was designed and created by Adomas Hrebnickis (1858-1941), a scientist, one of those Faustian types, who devoted all his life to… apples, pears, plums and other fruits that all together compose a science called pomology.

It is thanks to Hrebnickis that Lithuania today can boast of its apple-tree landscape so colourful and rich. And so delicious (sure the Golden & Jonagold monopoly is imminent but that’s another topic).

All started in 1890, when Hrebnickis received from his father-in-law a 14-ha land lot people called Velnynė, literally, the Devil’s land: it was all up-and-down and stony – a worst choice for agriculture. Our Faust, instead, decided to turn this place into a thing of beauty. A Paradise. So he did: laying out a huge orchard and planting more that 1,000 types of fruiters. He lived there himself, since 1922.

The part of the story I loved most is the following:

Mire Rojuje.

Literally:

Died in Paradise. 

That’s what poetry should be like: concise, straight, and true.

Bonus track: a short film

If this story helped set you on the right mood, here’s for you a short film, featuring lots of… oranges: Grandpa (2011), by Saulius Lukoševičius. Nostalgic, slow-paced, and very Lithuanian.

Best Baltic short film at Arsenals International Film Festival 2011, Riga.
Nominated for the best student film in Silver Cranes (Sidabrines gerves) 2011, Lithuania.

Words by Jurga
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