Monday, December 04, 2017

Warsaw days

It is cloudy and cold, in the way that a Warsaw December day so often can present itself. All day the temperature hovers close to the freezing point. Maybe it goes up a degree, maybe even two, but I can't be sure. When I look out my bedroom window this morning, I see the telltale traces of snow on the ground. (Not on the sidewalks -- these are merely wet and slushy.)

It does look pretty! For all the cold weather we have had back home in Wisconsin, this will be my first glimpse of snow this season.


I go out to get some milk for my morning coffee. Should I stop at my go-to greengrocer? The choice product, the one on display outside the entrance, seems to be the ubiquitous Polish cabbage...


There were days when you could find very little else in the dead of winter. Not so now: the store has the citrus fruts, the tomatoes, mushrooms, root vegetables, and even grapes.

I return home and fix that usual breakfast, only without the berries that, thanks to Mexico and Chile, are on our shelves year round, but aren't so visible in the winter season here.


And then my sister and I set out for a very long walk, undeterred by the on again/off again snow shower.

The goal is not unknown to me and you -- Lazienki Park. But we take a different route, one that runs parallel to the river. I rarely walk this way: the commercial center is on the higher Warsaw plateau above us. But I'm curious how things look down here. I had picked up a copy of the book "Varsavia Coffee Spots" and it lists some tantalizing possibilities for a refreshing coffee or tea in this area.

Here's one: the Kawiarnia Fabryczna (a cafe named after its home street -- translated as Factory Street... No factories now, just a smattering of rather hip looking spots). (A time release selfie!!)


The tea is wonderful (and warming), the atmosphere recreates a sixties look. The book description says that it's a favorite of high school students from the nearby high school Batory. We are here during class time, so of course, there are no teenagers around, but still, I have to smile at the link of this new place to a very old Warsaw school. My father had attended it (though his studies were interrupted when the war broke out) and indeed, for one semester, my sister and I had gone here as well, right when we came back from our years in New York.

Here it is, the ever lovely Batory Lycee:


And now we are at the lower corner of the Lazienki Park. Oh, how beautiful the summer palace looks from this vantage point!


The loveliest of all lovely parks!


(Yes, you'll find the red squirrel here...)


And no matter what the weather, you'll always find a mother with a stroller...


It's really feeling nippy now and my sister catches the metro home while I linger, checking out this time another new eating spot -- a place called MOD. It started out as a doughnut place: American style doughnuts. Meaning with a hole. And none of this artificial coloring and such: all natural ingredients. In the mornings people come here too for the excellent coffee and in the afternoon -- for bowlfuls of Asian-French fusion food. Me, I admire the doughnuts!


I pick up a few to take over to my dinner hosts tonight.


Ah, dinner: it's a big deal for me, for us. A chance to be together again. There were some last minute changes, as life does not stand still and a family emergency had to shift things from one place to another, but in the end, most of us did gather and that's a good thing! It's been a while!

Our hosts are part of our econometrics group from university days. But both have this other passion: art. Their home is filled with samples of their work and it is all quite incredible. I'll just post two examples, because they bring back thoughts of home. Here's a painting (one of so many, so many art pieces!) done by the husband...


What? You haven't guessed who is featured in it? Let me bring you closer to it:


Yes, you got it! Apple, Peach, Java...

And here are some of the sculptures done by the wife. Yes, life size penguins! Snowdrop would be in awe!


I could give you countless photos of pockets of conversation...


But I really didn't keep my camera out very long. Just enough to commemorate an important event: as of yesterday, all of the women there (plus the two who could not be with us tonight) are grandmothers!


Dinner is delicious! Rosol (Polish chicken soup), salmon tartare, ribs, chicken, salads and too many desserts! All on a very short notice, as the dinner venue had to change last just last night. My friends are tremendous in the kitchen!


We stay a while, even as tomorrow is a work day for everyone.

Time to go. Just a quick demonstration of a dance...


Then lots of hugs and kisses and we head home.

Home. What's home? Mine is that Warsaw apartment, where tonight I FaceTime with Snowdrop and Skype with Ed. Home -- there and here. Defined by the space, but even more by where love grows and flourishes.