Around the Wadman family farm, the remains of ancient civilizations were buried beneath the sod. Ealse used to dig for shards of pottery, arrowheads, and pieces of stone once used as household items, tools, or weapons by the Romans, the Frisans, or other tribes and peoples. He catalogued each one in meticulous drawings with number and letter codes.
Piet, Jitske’s uncle, one of the youngest twin sons of Ealse and Janke, shares the story of how the whole family would get involved in this archeological process: “Once we spent a weekend digging through a sand pit behind one of our fields; we were looking for stone tools from the Mesolithic. My father was an amateur archeologist, as you know. The following Monday, an excavation was going to start, and my father had found indication that stone tools were buried there. So we all dug up as much as we could.
“Next to our house, my father had discovered a landfill in an area where there used to be an old ditch. Earlier settlers had discarded their broken plates and cookware there. We’d go look at what my father had dug up, for it was always exciting, the kinds of surprises that appeared from the dirt. Sometimes the entire kitchen table was covered with fragments of ceramic, then we’d puzzle together with the entire family to see which shards might fit together. Sometimes it would be years before we’d find a missing piece that belonged with a pot my father had dug up earlier.”
Jitske tells me: “Another reason that creating a book from this story is so valuable for me is that my pake had the habit of asking me whether I’d been drawing. I was always drawing on the farm when I was a child. And what is so unusual about that is that my pake also used to draw a lot, only he never shared this with me while he was alive! I did not see his drawings until after he died. This was in character, but also a loss. My beppe told me that in the Wadman family, people have a tendency to “hide their talents under the wheat fields.” I remember thinking, when she told me this: I don’t want to do that! And that’s why I find it so important to express and show what is inside of me, however professional or unprofessional it may be what I do or create. I thought it was such a shame that my pake never showed his own granddaughter what beautiful things he made. It wasn’t until this past year that I saw his drawings that recorded the exact shapes of the stone tools he had dug up on his land, so beautiful and detailed. Who knows, maybe there will be a place for these drawings in our book!”