My great-grandmother Helena was the only great-grandmother that I knew well. It was my mom's grandma on her father's side. I should have had three more, but they were older so they passed away either before I was born or when I was a toddler. I have a vague recollection of grandma Maria's mom, but at this point it might be just a fragment of my imagination fuelled by looking at old photographs.
The nature around Ulicske Krive has remained beautiful. Even though the fields don't yield crops in any significant way for the families who still live there, the Carpathian forests are green, thick, humid and fragrant. Two things are missing, though: white butterflies that were once abundant, and wild berries. I mean, some berries are still there, but they are nowhere near as sweet and big.
Walking up the hill across the road from our house and towards our fields always took us forever because of the red wild strawberries growing on its sides, hiding under their small, finely toothed leaves. They were actually pretty invisible if you just looked down. You had to look under. We would run when we spotted a flood of red heads, the bigger the better, of course. And because they were so small, and we wanted to relish in their flavor, we would first collect a bunch of them in our palms, and then gulp them up all at once.
Now, raspberries were a different matter. They didn't grow close to our house, they were deeper in the woods. Great-grandma loved taking walks, supporting herself with a wooden stick that she liked to keep handy, leaning at the door. God forbid anyone would misplace it! :-) If we did, however, she would always find another one in the forest. So equipped like that, and often taking our dog with her, she would disappear for an hour or two, and then come back with a bunch of thorny branches full of red, juicy raspberries. I didn't understand why she needed to cut the whole branch, but now I imagine it must have been to bring them to us unsquashed. We all know that they are practically jam the moment we touch them :-).