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Raczki's Landscape

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Raczki is primarily a rural area, covered by farmlands with occasional wooded spots. The images below can give only an inkling of the sights and beauty of this area.

Haystacks on a rolling hill near Rudniki
Haystacks Near Rudniki
Not only does this picture suggest that the topography of the area isn't completely flat (in contrast to what I saw in central Poland), it also indicates that some farmers don't have access to--or may not choose to use--more mechanized haying technology. However, while in my travels I would see hay wagonsbeing loaded by hand in one field and then drawn away by a horse or perhaps a three-wheeler or motorcycle, down the road in another field would be a huge hay baling machine. Forgetting about the economic and labor implications of the 19th century technology, I can see in these haystacks the kind of farming which my ancestors practiced.

Kurianki Farmland
Kurianki Farmland
Most pasture that I saw in the Raczki area, as well as throughout Poland, is unfenced. Livestock is therefore tethered--a much more labor-intensive practice, since each animal has to be led out andback each day, as well as possibly moved at least once during the day. When animals are tethered near the road drivers sometimes have quite memorable views of their hindquarters almost sticking out onto the road.

View of the woods near Wasilówka, looking from the East
Wasilówka Woods
The tractor of recent vintage, as well as the power lines which I chose not to edit out, help to disabuse us of any misconception of Poland being "backward." In addition, although this northeast corner of Poland isn't normally excessively humid, it can experience hazy heat as on this day in late July.

Woods along the road from Dowspuda to Chodorki
Woods Southeast of Dowspuda
Most of the roads connecting the various settlements around Raczki are one-lane dirt roads, which may challenge the suspension systems on some automobiles, but which--at least in my view--rather than suggesting poverty or lack of development, match the beauty of the rest of the landscape and are appropriate for their apparently primary agricultural use. While I encountered a few cars and the occasional motorcycle on these roads, the more common modes of transportation would be gasoline- or horse-powered farm vehicles, bicycles, or shoe-leather. The people walking or bicycling to or from their destinations might be carrying purchases made in town, or scythes or hay rakes on the way to or from haying. On the whole, though, I encountered little traffic.

A note about the Polish roads in general: while many of the roads connecting small rural settlements are dirt or gravel, I found that urban roads (with very few exceptions) were either paved or bricked--the latter producing the "quaint" effect that visitors to Europe like to see. There are only a couple of limited-access high-speed highways in Poland; however, the main two-lane or four-lane roads through the country tend to be decently if not well-paved, although often curvy, which reduces the speed at which one can travel safely and legally. I couldn't travel with the speed I can on U.S. high-speed interstate highways; on the other hand, the relatively slower speed (generally between 70 and 90 km/h--which is parallel to the speed limits on U.S. numbered routes) allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the country.

A final comment: as I write this in September 2002, I find it interesting that New York State is running tv spots and has a website to promote the use of "the highways and byways" of New York State. So, lest we think that Poland is "backwards" because of the scarcity of high-speed dragways, we might want to consider that people in Poland, while certainly not averse to driving fast, might better appreciate something that at least New York is trying to recover. In addition, the following statement by Charles Kuralt might be thought-provoking:

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything. From the Interstate, America is all steel guardrails and plastic signs, and every place looks and feels and sounds and smells like every other place." -- Charles Kuralt, On the Road with Charles Kuralt



Road to Rudniki
Road to Rudniki
One characteristic of both paved and dirt/gravel country roads in Poland is the beauty created by arboreal archways. While crop and pasture landwould sometimes abut the road, just as often it would be separated from the road by columns of trees that create shade and visual variation.

Rudniki Stork's Nest
Rudniki Stork's Nest
Storks are as fond of nesting in the Raczki area as they are throughout the rest of Poland. All of the nests which I saw sat upon platformserected on the tops of power poles rather than on roofs; the power poles were typically constructed out of concrete.

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The Raczki area lies between two major lake regions in Poland: the Mazurian lakes to the west, and the Augustów/Suwałki lakes to the east. Running through the center of the gmina, from Jezioro Bolesty (Lake Bolesty) in the northwest to the southeast, is Rzeka Rospuda (the Rospuda River). This river is a favorite kayaking route.

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Click here to link to home page  Homepage Click here to link to Town of Raczki page  Town of Raczki
Click here to link to Parish Church page  Holy Trinity Church Click here to link to Shrines page  Wayside Shrines
Click here to link to Dowspuda page  Dowspuda & Pac Palace Click here to link to Links page  Raczki Area Links
Click here to link to Raczki history page  Raczki History Click here to link to Ostrowski genealogy page  Ostrowski Family from Raczki