In No. 6 of the Czech Dialogue in the article concerning Kyrkekvarn I wrote enthusiastically about Jindra Sipek's lecture describing his travels in Peru, especially about the Indian tribe living near the lake Titicaca on islands made of reeds. Their houses are made of reeds; they use it for fuel and its young sprouts for human and animal food. They fish and they don't need any electricity, t.v., etc. - they live simply, humbly, happily and stress-free. I often think about those Indians especially now during my vacation that I am spending with my grandchildren in a small cottage in the woods near Slapy.
I gather mushrooms, blackberries, pine cones and wood. I cook on a wood stove and get water from a well. The river is our bathroom. Instead of watching television in the evening I watch the stars or the campfire. Recently a few trees were cut down around our cottage and the trunks were hauled away. The big branches were left behind- it all smells so nice and we have lots of wood for our stove. We sing songs and roast unhealthy sausages and bread on the fire. The girls Eliska (13) and Nina (8) have lots of friends- kids from the surrounding cottages- to play with all day. When it is necessary to get water, or wood or plums for our dumplings, they help out without complaining knowing that soon they can again go back to their games.
Yesterday we met a nice big snake on the path behind the cottage. It was trying to eat a big frog, but was not very successful at it. It was holding only the frog's hind leg in its mouth and when Eliska let out a big scream for help, friend Lukas (16) came to the rescue and grabbed the snake by its tail. The snake let go of the frog but turned on Lukas. Its open mouth was a really scary sight- so I tried to get all the smaller children far away including a little dog Rozinka. The snake then decided to play dead, did not move, let its tongue hang out and let out an awful smell. Lukas said that this maneuver was its defense. One day when it was very hot we found a deer resting in the shade behind the cottage. When she saw me, she quietly got up, walked gracefully over our stone steps and disappeared into the woods. There are also salamanders and squirrels around and lots and lots of beautiful birds. We also have some mice around- so far we haven't actually seen any, but I found some chewed up blankets in the attic- an unmistakable sign of their presence. Yesterday our neighbor had someone from animal control remove a nest of hornets. I must confess that I felt sorry for the poor creatures. They used to fly to our yard and drink juice from a small tree that sprouted near our cottage and provided a bit of shade for my kitchen. We had to cut it down a little.
We also have horses as neighbors. The community of Hnevsin below "our" hill consists of only about 4 dwellings, but there are several dozen riding horses around. One of the horsemen is the popular actor Vaclav Vydra; he and his family love the surrounding countryside. Every year Vasek Vydra puts together a great outdoor show about the battle at Little Big Horn, for which he should get at least a local Oscar. Vydra of course portrays general Custer and commands the whole cavalery. It usually occupies the big meadow on the right side near the woods, whereas the cunning and colorful Indians gather on the left side near "our" hill. Last Saturday about 200 horses from the whole country gathered nearby. The organizers had only a few hours on Friday to rehearse, but they put on a superb performance on Saturday. It was the 130- th anniversary of the famous battle and it certainly deserved a great show. There were horses of all colors- brown, black, gray, white, some thoroughbreds, Islanders, etc.- they all performed in single file, in doubles, or moved in circles. They were stepping, trotting, galloping in colorful formations according to the commands of their riders, and they chased the "enemy"-in short, it was a great show. There were a few Indian tepees on the left side which offered an insight into Indian family life and where one could buy Indian souvenirs. Down by the brook there was a covered wagon where Mary Lou and Lulu served a real cowboy bean soup.
The children loved the so-called "melon cutting" which followed. It is supposed to represent cutting up of the enemy but is also a sweet treat for the kids who wait until the riders cut up the melons with their swords. As the melons roll down the meadow, the children run after them and get to enjoy the juicy fruit. There was also cannon fire which was hard on the many dogs around (our Rozinka was placed inside our cottage) and country music could be heard everywhere. In short- a beautiful day full of great experiences and good cheer (in spite of the battle?)
The only touch of civilization that I have in our cottage is electricity-it was put in because of my computer that I need. Until recently we used candles and oil lamps.
Therefore my dear readers- today you won't find out anything about what I think about Paroubek or Topolanek who have been fighting for power the whole summerwith no final winner. To be honest- I am not looking forward to returning to Prague next week. I much prefer to pick mushrooms. This year there was lots of them, and they are great pan-fried with caraway seeds. You can read more about them in the Czech Calendar for 2007- I am already working on it in between the mushrooms, pine cones and plum dumplings?Eva Strizovska Translated by Marie Dolansky
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