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Dream Quest One Second Writing Prize Winner
Summer 2008
Angela Dani
Dubuque, Iowa - USA

 The Romanian Way through an American's Eyes



“Good morning Grandma! Is there anything I can possibly do today to help you and grandpa out a little?” That’s what I would usually say every morning.



It was the summer of 2007 when I spent a month of quality time with Grandma Gela and Grandpa Sandra, where I learned the life of farm work, and also the strength and love that both my grandparents still have after fifty-five years of marriage.



My grandparents, Angela and Alexsandru Pinta, are the roots of a warm, loving family, and I couldn’t possibly imagine not being a part of that family. They have five children, which includes my mom, who is the only one who left Romania to marry my dad in America. I am fortunate enough to be able to visit my unique family in Europe every year, building a castle of memories with my classy grandparents.



My stay was boring in the beginning, not really knowing what to do around the village except to socialize with my friends, but then I was put to work, good old Romanian style.



“Well, you can break the onion roots off with me, if you’d like. Just put a blanket on your lap, take an onion and hold it like this; then just break the long roots off and put the onion in the basket,” she told me, with a curious expression on her face as to how I might do. This is the first thing she has asked me to help her with so far this summer, so I will prove to her that I’m not just a lazy teenage girl, but that I can really work!



“Ok, that doesn’t sound too bad,” I said confidently. “So, just hold the onion like this, and break it off like this!” I was excited I now knew how to properly break off the roots of freshly picked onions, and apparently so did my grandma.


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“Yes! That’s exactly right, now do that to the rest of them,” She said elatedly. I looked at the large pile in the basket, sighed with wide eyes, and went to work.



After an hour of ripping roots off vegetables had passed, my fingers were sore, and my eyes were watery. But I said nothing of my complaint, and looked at Grandma as though I had accomplished something and made her proud; even if it was a little thing like taking the time to dc-root some onions.



“There you go Grandma, the onions are now ready for the soup,” I said as I stood up and shook the onion roots off of my lap. “This was really fun. Don’t be afraid to put me to work grandma; I can handle anything!” I added.



“Thanks so much Honey, now go and play with your friends, and I’ll call you when I need you again.” Grandma suggested I go out and play a tad, so I did as she insisted. I then came back in the late afternoon, ready for my next task.



“Well, is there anything else I can do now? Start dinner, sweep the floors, and maybe feed the pigs?” I was so desperate to take a load of work off of their shoulders, and make them relax a little bit for once; maybe they could soak their feet and put on a ‘face mask.’



“Well let’s see. It’s 6:30 p.m. so you can go to the corner of the street, and wait for our cows to come at sunset. Bring them into the courtyard, and you can milk them,” she said smoothly and without a thought.



“Ok, great! I’ll get right on it.” So I went to the corner of the street where I waited with an additional ten or so people for the cows to riposte from their daily trip to the pasture. I brought


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the three cows back into the courtyard like grandma said, but then I was clueless in what my next duty was . . . milking the cows. I can definitely say that milking a cow was not my area of expertise! But of course, I gave it a try.



So I grabbed the milking bucket and a stool. I thought about various methods that could help me endeavor this challenge for about two minutes; then I got to it. The result of my attempt though was not pleasing, nothing came out, and not even a drip of milk trickled into the bucket. I refused to sit on this low, wooden stool any longer, so I did the first thing that came to mind.



“GRANDMA!” I yelled in frustration. “What am I doing wrong? Can you please show me how to do this real quick? Then I promise I won’t bother you again. It’s just that I didn’t think that milking a cow would be so intricate!” I said in desperation while grandma chuckled.



“It’s really not that complicated once you get started.” I watched grandma take the lead, and it looked so effortless when she did it. “See, it’s not so convoluted, is it? Now you try.”



I sat back down on the wooden stool and started to copy her exact moves, and before I knew it, I was milking a cow! “Grandma, look. I’m actually doing it!” I cheered. “I can milk a cow!” I sounded a little childish, bragging about finally being able to milk a cow, but I didn’t care. I wanted the whole world to know that I could milk a cow. I saw the smile on my grandma’s face, and it made me so delighted to see her be proud of her American granddaughter.



Grandma Gela praised me, then went straight back to the garden, where grandpa was working on picking the tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, carrots and potatoes, while grandma collected the watermelons, corn, sorghum and wheat on the other side of the garden. Mid-July is


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always the busiest month in the garden because everything is blossoming all around. I couldn’t help but think about how hard it is on their backs bending over so much for such an extensive period of time on a hot, sunny day. But yet, the pain doesn’t show on their faces, and both act as if they’re as strong as a person thirty years younger than they are.



I occasionally glanced up at the both of them as they worked away, while I carried on with the milking of the three cows. I couldn’t help but to think about how I have always wanted them to come and stay with my family in the United States. I didn’t understand exactly why they always were so stubborn and didn’t want to get away from all this exertion and muck. Then it hit me straight on like an arrow hitting a dartboard, my grandparents have been doing this their whole lives, and even when my dad offered them to come stay with us in America, Grandma denied the offer because they’re so used to their lifestyle and their way at making a living. My grandparents wouldn’t be happier in a luxurious place anywhere in the world, because they love what they do, even if some people might think the opposite.



In just that one day of helping my grandparents out on the farm, I grew an appreciation and understanding for them even more. I actually decided that living there on the farm with my strong, life-loving grandparents wouldn’t be so bad either. I had the most loveable grandparents, and the most cherished friends right in front of me, and that’s all I needed to be happy.


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A short story written by Angela Dani – Age: 14