Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Let's take things slowly today -- I say this to myself, as if one side of me needs that nudge.

My sister runs errands (I'm ashamed to admit that some of them are for me -- I am no help in handling my own affairs!) and I sit back a little. I see a guitar propped against the wall. One of my nephews plays it, I think. I pick it up. It was once my companion -- teenage angst seeping up from the chords, never quite resolving itself, but what else was I to do? (These days I say to myself -- study! Work is good for angst.  Back then I'd say to myself -- I've done enough work, let me just strum the guitar...)


I'm terrible at it now. I put it down. My years of playing music are behind me.

I used to be a letter writer in my young adult years and my sister has a stack that I had written to her. I look through them now. They predate my departure for the States. Chatty stuff about a trip to East Germany, about wanting to be a healthy eater, even as I include in my list of good foods such things as pretzels (What did we know about healthy foods back in 1970? Such different ideas have ripened than faded...)


Every now and then a light shower wets the pavements outside, but even so, I want to go out for a walk. There has to be one day for the park. I have time today.

A subway ride and I am downtown. I go to one my reliable cafes that's about halfway between the subway stop and the park. It is no more. I remember how energetic and proud the owners were -- where are they now?

Never mind -- there's an equally charming small cafe just across the street. "Me Plus Me." Alright, I'll grab my cappuccino here.


The person behind the counter talks me into one of their "pates."
We serve them with warm bread -- they're a great snack! (So inexpensive too. In Paris, this dish would be five times the price and no, that is not an exaggeration.)

I pick the one with peas, avocado and garlic. Delicious!


Outside again, I see with some relief that the drizzle has mainly receded. Still, it's cold outside. I'm so glad I have my winter jacket!

I pass this building -- my father once had an office there... (it's the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- the place where he began his diplomatic career).


I must have been inside the building all of two times. Those were not the days fathers took their daughters to work. At least not here, not my father, not this office.

Across the street from the Lazienki Park there is a row of government buildings and I see that a small group is staging a protest. They're from the Committee for the Defense of Democracy and they're demanding the return to the rule of law in Poland -- a direct punch at the current ruling party which had removed judges properly appointed to the constitutional court by the previous government, in the spirit of -- if our party doesn't like the government that appointed the judges, we'll just make sure those judges are prevented from serving on the court. Sound just a little familiar?


In the park, I see crocuses -- big fat ones (here are some ducks among the crocuses)...


... and, too, one of my favorite early spring plants -- helleborus.


The trees are bare still, but there is a green tone to most everything around me nonetheless. Or is it my wistful belief that we are fully into this beautiful season of everything fresh and honest?


I took one of the slices of bread from the cafe for the red squirrels here...


... which was completely stupid, as squirrels will climb all over you for a nut, but scamper away if you stick out a crumb of bread. Never mind, there are plenty of ducks on the lake by the Summer Palace. I feed them the bread.


As I leave the park, I encounter a very calm deer. I wonder how it is that the handful of deer here do not escape through the open gates onto the city streets. Are they not tempted to see what lies beyond the vast but still limited park grounds?


And finally, I walk the very, very familiar city blocks back to the metro. I lived in these parts. I know every bakery, every old shop and not a small number of the new ones too.

I pause to see what people are buying (or ordering) for Easter. None of this has changed:



(This last is a poppy-seed cake.)


I try to think what you we, in the States, consider to be the traditional Easter dessert and I draw a blank. I google it and a Martha Stewart site displays some thre dozen Easter desserts that I have never served, eaten, or even seen on any Easter dinner table (rhubarb pavlova? meyer lemon pastry?). Poland is so full of culinary tradition and I see that they are as vivid now, even in this rather westernized country, as they were when I was growing up here.

And then I ride the metro to my sister's home. There is an increased security patrol and I think nothing of it until I read on the news screen in the metro car that Brussels has had a terrorist attack. The human element at its worst.

In the evening, on the other hand, I see the human element at its best. My friends gather at Oliva, a restaurant that's pretty close to the Apartment. We have a lot to talk about. The evening is beautiful and long...


... and you have to wonder why it can't be this good for everyone on this horribly complicated planet.

And still, the full moon shines brightly over us all tonight. I know this to be true. I saw it on our late night walk home.


  1. so good to see you with your polish friends on this day of more sadness...and I always love your walk in your favorite park, tagging along with my memories of our walk there together! xx

  2. Nina, your optimism is a wonderful gift. Your example instills confidence and optimism at a time where both are in short supply. A rare gift indeed. Thank you.

  3. Cadbury eggs, jelly beans, and peeps. If I remember correctly. Safe travels Nina.


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