Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Quick, tell me some things about Polska

I am so very impressed with this list of ten memorable things about Poland. You're on Oscar! Here's my list:

Off the top, ten things that stand out about Poland (not necessarily the most important and most certainly not in any particular order of importance):

1. Pansies instead of marigolds. In public spaces and private gardens, Americans go for the gold. Poles plant pansies instead. Everywhere. Lots and lots of them.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 150 pansy mania

2. The food. Okay, it’s heavy. There’s lots of cream and butter and meat. And ice cream and cake and poppy seeds. And sausage. Oscar notes that Polish people have avoided obesity. Someone recently said it’s because Poles don’t use couches as much as Americans do. But they sure have the potatoes.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 225
light fare: cabbage stew, mushroom soup, sausage, beer

Paris & Warsaw May 05 228

first choice: sour cherry- apple, in the middle.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 227
yeast cakes and doughnuts.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 379
highland hut strung with roasted kielbasa.

3. A love of the outdoors: the mountains, the waterways, the forests, or just a scrawny bit of land on which to plant flowers and grow berries. See, after you get yourself a TV, you save up for a car. It can be a cheap car. Next is a scrap of land with maybe a shack on it. That’s where you spend your leisure time. It’s more important than having a washing machine. Of course, there’s a problem there, but we’ll keep hygiene off the list. Don’t want to give the wrong impression …

Paris & Warsaw May 05 240 forest walks

Paris & Warsaw May 05 389 mountain air

4. The market economy has not taught sales people manners. Oscar observes that they can be rude. Indeed! Kep had commented that there are only two types of people – those willing to be engaged in the lives of people they encounter and the sulkers. It was said that the sulkers were the byproduct of communism. I’m beginning to think that it’s deeper than that. They pout and sulk and pick on their nails or smoke a cigarette and ignore you.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 299

pretzel man with an attitude; and a cigarette.

5. Good coffee AND good tea. This theme’s for you and you (even though I do not have a photo of the tea; pretend!).

Paris & Warsaw May 05 178 there's great coffee beneath that great foam. Oh, and don't forget the poppyseeds on the breads and in the cakes. Lots. Carry a tooth pick.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 374 ...and quit staring at the sour cherry jam; it's all in the coffee

6. Manipulating the outcome: Poles use all sorts of devious tricks to get by in life on very little. How enterprising – you may say. Yes, if you are not the one that has been manipulated in some way.

7. The parks the parks the parks: Polish cities are all about the parks. It’s more than just the beauty of these places, it is that they are public spaces that draw every inhabitant in, creating a communal stomping ground, a social place where you can be alone and yet not alone. (I have posted enough pics of Polish parks on Ocean. move on.)

8. Religious symbols, churches, chapels – they’re everywhere. No, really. It’s like the Vatican has decided to make Poland its second home. Jesus indeed. Or more like Mary. Poles are more into Mary than Jesus.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 399 in the highlands; for some, it's worth the long hike.

9. Women attend to their skin. I swear, there are more cosmeticians than lawyers. Maybe that’s a good thing. Polish cosmetics, btw, are first rate. And there are lots of them. None of this simple body lotion: there’s anti-cellulite lotion, anti-wrinkle cream, stress-relief lotion, and topical cream for your newly implanted tattoo. And no, I do not know why deodorant isn’t nearly as popular.

10. Café conversations. Poles either like to walk and talk or sit at cafés and talk. Yes, the common denominator is the talking thing. But if you see the thousands flocking to cafés each day you’ll wonder if maybe the café, not the conversation, is the draw.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 340 dogs are okay. as long as you feed them. sugar.

Paris & Warsaw May 05 365 cafe life: generations.

P.S. thanks to Ann for encouraging me to finally move on to Flicker, and to Oscar for working with me through the conversion.

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

My calling voice this morning was the voice of work. But I haven’t the stamina from last winter. After two hours of pre-dawn lecture writing (I have a class to present this morning), I crawled back to bed.

And then I did what I do just about every morning: I watched the morning come in.

Some days (today) I am more awake for this than on other days, but rarely does this hour pass without me noting its stunning beauty.

I keep the curtains open in the bedroom. It is completely private: only the white pines that I planted years ago can witness what takes place inside this great room. And I keep the window open. Not in the dead of winter, but at all other times.

And so the day starts with a bird chorus and a misty green outside – gray at first, and more translucent as the sun breaks loose.

In all my travels, no wake-up scene has impressed me more. And I know that it will no longer be with me when I begin my mornings at Bassett.

This morning, just before dawn, from my pillow: sublime.
but soft, what light through yonder window breaks? Posted by Hello

My God! The Stars were not aligned for biking giants last Wednesday!

Thanks for emailing me this! I deeply appreciate knowing that Lance and I were both at odds with the gods of cycling (within minutes of each other last week, he and I crashed).

It seems that his injuries were smaller than mine. But I am reassured: if he can get back on the saddle to do his Tour de France thing, I can certainly not hesitate about resuming my touring de Madison on Mr. B. Which I most certainly did in the last days. To work, to the stores, and then again, last night at dusk: it was all about cycling.