Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Summertime! A very long blog post

Yesterday, I did one of those summertime things. I went to a lake/fishpond/whatever it's called in English; mom had said there should be wild plums.
Maybe there are, I don't know. I never came to the place where they are supposedly growing, because on the way there, I found abandoned apple trees - lots of them, guarded by fearsome stinging nettles.
And just by picking the apples I could reach easily, I brought home about 3 kg of apples. Glorious green tart summer apples, perfect for pies and other such things.

Now, let us interrupt the story with an advertisement...

Well, sort of.
-~- Accordion to Kellie Summertime Blog Party -~-
What is your favorite cold summer treat?
My all time favourite summer treat, forget cold, is a juicy green tart summer apple, picked from the tree, and all the things that can be made from it. Like apple strudel.

I forgot to put any sugar in it. An excuse to put even more sugar on top!

If you insist on "cold", it's lemon ice cream. Especially the lemon + mint + ginger ice cream that I once had. My sister made homemade ice cream recently, cherry (obviously), with excellent results (so excellent that I do not have a photo). There's mint growing in our garden, and lemon and ginger are easy to come by. Maybe I should try it.
But mango lassi is also good.
Ideal summer vacation?
 Anywhere with a forest (although Bohemian-Moravian Highlands don't hurt). And blueberries. Or blackberries. And little streams in the forest. Accessible by train. The possibility to visit historical sites, like a chateau. And nice people around.

The Konopiště chateau, the residence of Franz Ferdinand d'Este, which we visited with mom and sister and cousins back in 2008.
Favorite summertime sport?
 Alternating between basketball and softball; but both only when it's not too hot. And I'm not much of a sport girl to begin with. If hiking by any chance counts as a sport, it's definitely hiking.
Name your favorite book for the perfect summer afternoon read
 The best, perfect summer afternoon read was Silver Rose/Green Brigade. I found it in the library of a recreation centre/camp that belongs to my church; it's the sort of library where people put their library castoffs. It was an old book, from the 1940s (as I figured out much later), and some of the pages were still uncut (!). I carefully cut them, and read it one summer afternoon on a lakeside...
When I came to the camp next year, the book was in pieces, scattered over the whole library, and I could not put it back together.
(I saved several books from that library; until then, it felt like stealing, or borrowing for an indefinite time; after that, I kept them without regret.)

Currently, both me and my sister are immersed in the Brother Cadfael series. I found its awesomeness thanks to Lisa. I had encoutered it once or twice before, the name and the basic premise, but I had not bothered checking it out because back then it sounded like one of the countless "historical" novels that are to be found out there. You know, historical murder mystery? Solved by a monk? Sounds a lot like something riding the popularity of Name of the Rose. Thankfully, I know better now. It was written by a historian, it describes a time and place in English history that you rarely hear about (plus some Welsh history thrown into the mix, which you hear about even more rarely), and it was translated into Czech by two of the best Czech translators from English. Just that would suffice to mark them as books made of win; but it usually also has very good stories. ;-)
Current #1 summer goal:
 To organise and clean up my sewing supplies. Ideally also to sew something up in the process.
A favorite summertime memory
 Too many!
The one time I scored a homerun in softball at a summer camp? The times in the Baltic countries with my family, my first glimpse of the sea at the Curonian Spit, the crying of the seagulls, a field full of storks? The one time we celebrated Christmas in August? The many times I picked blueberries? The countless campfires, the songs, the starry skies? That one summer camp based around The Hobbit, and the night walk along a creek, with torches (real ones, not the electric sort) and the campfire under a rock cliff? The time I was learning to recognise plants, and the fact that I still recognise some of them? The smell of wild thyme? The smell of phloxes?
As I said, too many.

There's also a ModCloth giveaway running at Accordion to Kellie. I'm not sure I want to win it myself (overseas shipping, you know?), but hey, maybe you want. :-)

Do you still remember I was telling a story?

The story is a story of "luck sides with the prepared." In this case, someone equipped with a camera.
As I walked towards the farther end of the lake, bag full of apples and still hoping to find some plums, I noticed a bird in the creek that runs alongside the lake. I thought it to be a duck, but gave it a second thought and turned back, to see it was not a duck.

I do not know what it is, but it is certainly not something seen every day.

Then some people passed me (actually, one of them was a librarian lady that I like to chat with when I go to the library, walking her dogs). The birds disappeared under the plants at the farther bank. And as I waited for them to reappear...

A muskrat came out. It swam to a spot just in front of me, and sat there, cleaning itself, and pretty much ignored the fact that there was a human silently watching it just some four meters away.
And since I stood there for quite some time, watching and photographing the birds and the muskrat, all the time carrying three kilos of apples on one shoulder, I never came to the other end of the lake where the plums are growing. When the muskrat swam away again, I turned back.

And encountered one more being.

Before I reached home, on the lower end of the block, I realised there was a beautiful rose. I'm not so keen on roses as such, but yellow (as the one we have) and orange and yellow-and-orange, and this very slightly orange-ish pink, are very pretty.

Yellow and orange roses smell of carrots to me. That's why I love them.


  1. I'm glad you got photos of the bird and muskrat. And, I'm so glad you're enjoying Brother Cadfael! I happen to be re-reading "The Devil's Novice" at the moment. I don't tire of reading them because of her wonderful way with the English language. Did you know she used to translate things into Czech? Still, I can't help but wonder how they come across in another language - I'm sure you would have no trouble with them in English.
    Here is something I was just reading today -
    "'But of course', said Brother Mark, with the exalted confidence of angels and archangels, and the simplicity of children, 'it is not true.'"

    I will never tire of reading her.

    I hope you win the giveaway! ;-D

    1. They proudly announce the fact of her translations on some of the books. :-)
      I'm sure I would have no trouble with them in English either, but sadly, can't get them so easily in English. They have all the Czech translations in our local library. The translations are fine, though. It has its own style, and somehow the original style comes across, I think. Stanislava Pošustová, one of the ladies who translated it, is good at that; her translation of The Lord of the Rings has the exact same feel to it as the original.
      I remember that passage. :-) We are reading it out of order...

    2. P.S. And I love Hugh Beringar. ;-)

  2. Beautiful! I always love your posts - both the stories you share and your writing style.
    Thank you for sharing about the giveaway! Lemon + mint + ginger ice cream??? Yes please! :D


    1. I'm glad someone other than me enjoys my writing. :D Lemon + mint + ginger ice cream is a dream come true.

  3. OK, you may not be able to find cotton bras in the Czech Republic, but this post makes it sound like heaven. The apples, the walk by the pond (ponds are little, lakes are big, unless you are in Newfoundland, where they call lakes ponds - English is fun!), the bird and the muskrat (muskrats! So exciting!). The whole post just sings of summer!

    I think the Brother Cadfael books got made into a TV series.

    Also, thank you so much for your comment on wool on my blog. I was quite grumpy and wanted to snap at the commenter, but you were so polite!

    1. Well, you're welcome.

      I've seen the Cadfael TV series; sadly they have a declining tendency, sadly because they started out great. Derek Jacobi makes the perfect Cadfael, and I liked Sean Pertwee as the deputy sheriff Hugh Beringar a lot (Hugh is supposed to be dark-haired, but otherwise he's also perfect) in the first season. But the other two seasons are gradually going down, Hugh is played by two other actors (I don't know why that is) who don't quite capture the character's essence (small, lithe, but strong and energetic; clever, a bit scheming but empathic and loyal). The last episode is nothing like the book, adding unnecessary "drama" and controversy and completely changing the characters, even the plot! So for the perfect Cadfael experience, I'd recommend reading the books and watching the first season of the series. :-)

      Even with the unavailability of cotton bras and other things in the Czech Republic, I would not want to live anywhere else. We have the best fishponds and a rather unique approach to the accessibility of the great outdoors (not really that unique, but I think only Finland beats us there).