trzepak

[tshe-pak] the exact word in English would be: “beater”.

I remember spending time hanging upside down from trzepak, and soaking the upside down images of the gray world, trying to stir at the sky above, diminishing the sadness of the surroundings. I would make the guards of my mind go down and explore different dimensions of my upside down brain analyzing this not upside down world, trying to discover new possibilities of perception and evaluating the seen surroundings from a new perspective.

This commonly seen element, made out of metal, was a very important piece of every Polish yard. Although used professionally by every family only few times a year, trzepak was regarded as a necessary contraption of every yard. It wasn’t making any place uglier, but it wasn’t adding any artistic value to it for sure.

The original purpose for trzepak was to clean you rug, as it was valued as one of the most precious possessions of the household. At the appointed time, usually before Christmas, Easter and maybe one ot two more times a year, you would bring your rug over it, take a trzepaczka (carpet beater) and beat the hell out of that rug. There is some logical explanation and order of doing it correctly, but don’t ask me about it.

The fog of dust would surely rise around the tortured place, an indication that the beating must be prolonged till the moment of the cloudy, dusty monster disappearing. In the winter time you would put the rug facing down on the snow and beat it.

The pounding would always generate attention from the public, as the sound of the beating would bounce around the walls. It would be impossible to miss that. This sound announced almost always that the holidays were coming ot some special occasion was approaching. Baptism, family reunion, first Communion, just to think of the few most associated with this action.

After hearing the familiar sounds, people would have a look who is down there beating one of their moist valuable items, marking in their minds, that the neighbour was so early trying to start the season of rug beatings or being so late (for example cleaning a rug on Good Friday would cause a great disapproval in the neighborhood).

Trzepak served to others, mostly slightly older crows, as a place of socializing, place of a meeting, but the kids had turned it to an object of invention, relaxation and experiments.

If there was no one to play with – you could always hand upside down from trzepak and sing a song, observe the world upside down. It was a place of challenging your friends, daring them to repeat what you’ve just accomplished, making some new kind of twisted figure, attempting to mesmerize the audience. If you had no other talents, but the art of stretching and making strange twists out of your body limbs, you could use trzepak as a platform for your show. If I wanted to play in jumping rubber band and there was no one around, I would kindly include trzepak and the tree trunk as my static holders for the rubber band. You could also make a quite fancy puppet show for those not discovered puppet animators and kids hungry for more cultural entertainment.

I can still feel the coldness, which felt almost cruel and unwelcoming, and the metallic smell of the bars. They were smooth in touch, rubbed of by the hundreds of other hands and those victim rugs. I remember sitting on it while eating ice cream at summer times. I remember looking at it through the window in the winter times trying to spot any birds which might rest for a while in our closed yard. I remember beating my rug too.

It seems very strange to me how this particular object is imprinted in my childhood memories, especially the smell and touch associated with it.

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7 thoughts on “trzepak

  1. I love this story. It is exactly how I remeber it from my childhood! Its nice to know that other people have this experience etched in their mind. | also remember falling off those things…not fun.

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