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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

One Spring Day

What a fine April 17th it has been. I woke near dawn, read 20 pages of Banville’s “Doctor Copernicus”, wrote 1400 words of THE SIREN AND THE MUSE, then had a good nice invigorating workout. All this by 11 a.m.!! Okay, not so bad.

The weather has turned into spring, and I wanted to take a long walk: from Vinohrady to Prazky Hrad, avoiding many of the tourist paths (a difficult feat, actually). So showered and packed up — picnic blanket, supper, book & etc accutrements — then off I went. As I got outside, I thought I was smart to head Anne’s warning that “it’s only 50 degrees outside!” and sure enough, that’s what it felt like in the shade. By the time I got three blocks away, I stopped to pull on my long-sleeve black shirt.

Vltava & Onion Domes

People were in the parks today, soaking up the much-missed sun. Lots of pretty girls, and beer-bellied men. The beer gardens were open. Music played. People lay about the benches or read books. Brats cried. Lovers walked hand in hand. Seasoned couples argued with arms crossed. Dogs shat on the lawn. Old people used crutches (have I said before that Prague holds the most crutches I’ve ever seen in one city? Shit-holy-samolians for the patent on those things … the crutches, not the old people 😉 ).

Prazky Hrad from Vltava

I wound my way from Jiriho ze Podrebrad, through Riegrovy Sady, down past Narodni Muzeum, north along Wenceslaus Square, cutting through the old Carmelite Sect gardens, down Narodni Trida, across a bridge spanning the Vltava, then down to the base of Petrin Sady (hill), where I spent 15 mins finding a cold beer, then walked up through the park a ways, stopping to drink said purchased beer and taking in the blossoming cherry trees (took me 1.5 years to figure out cherry trees grew on Petrin), then reading some of the Banville novel. Of course, an American couple decided to sit nearby, and for ten minutes I had to listen to an explitive-laced diatribe on the sex-slave industry in Europe. I mean, what the fuck!, it’s my *^&%$#@*!! weekend, too, goddammit.

Lovers in a boat, one lighting up

So then I finished my beer and proceeded up the hill. I found the can, used it in darkness (though, I was wearing sunglasses), then tramped my way through throngs of tourists (it seems to be German Week, as the sounds of Deutche filled the air. Auchtun!!) across Petrin to the long cobblestone street heading down to St Nicholas Cathedral.

Prague spires from Petrin

But I cut up a steep stairway (the same stairs from which I snapped picks of Asia, Romain, and Michael in January), and trucked across Hradcany Namesti and into the castle grounds. I wanted to circumnavigate St Vitus cathedral, then cut out through the side exit and down into the moat. It was past 4 pm by now, and I was famished from this 3-mile walk, thus far, and the beer was just barely keeping me alive.

Down I went into the deer moat. Yes! The afternoon sun streamed across the meadow. This was the spot I had thought of while lying in bed this morning, when the draped yielded only soft light. Picnic on the moat.

I passed a couple couples on my way down the path. And as I set up a blanket, got out my victuals, and opened a mini-wine bottle, three nuns in habits came up the path from the tunnel separating the upper from the lower moat. They observed me with piety; I tipped my wine bottle to their health. The universe is right.

Mark on his solitary picnic

In the sunshine, I wallowed in my peace, with birds flying along above this valley, and the smell of sweet spring grass lifting off the ground, and voices of different tongues quacking in the background. My snack consisted of a rye-bread roll (Asia: i pulled out the innards), a tin of sardines in tomato sauce, two fresh plum tomatoes, and a mini-bottle of red cab.

Deer Moat picnic lunch

Though hungry as a big dog, I luxuriated in this afternoon calm. The photo-illustration show my elation, n’est pas?

So now I had to pee (hey! the title of this post contains “day” … when’s the last time you went a whole day without pee’ing?), so I made my way down the moat, and up the path to the Queen’s Gardens. Stimied!! The johns are under rehab. What to do? Hmm. Head home.

I made my way across the street, waited two minutes for a tram that wasn’t coming, then bustled down to the Hradcanska metro stop. A few short stops later, and a walk in the falling sunshine, and I was home.

Ahhhh!! Relief. Now that’s a good spring day.

Tomorrow, Asia should suddenly appear in the photographs for an April 18th post. 😉

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