The Sun Wooed Me

Yesterday was May first, which meant that couples in the Czech Republic met under blooming trees to kiss one another.  For me, May is the time when the weather starts to romance me.  It is the time of crossing over.  School is ending (at least in Iowa, where I am not), and as my students sweetly say, "the sun is shining, birds are singing . . . "  May means flowers, green, and the advent of summer.  Students and teachers both get restless, attracted to the the blue skies after dismal winters--all the winter vitamin D deprivation leaves them itching to get under the sun.

Perhaps I can claim the same reason for why I haven't been as active on this blog, though there is plenty to report and there are many lovely photos yet to be unveiled.  The weather has charmed me with its winsome attentions.  As a happy spring preview, I got out for a hike in March with Žaneta, her friend Slavka, and three dogs to Prašíva a Kotař.  Snow still dwelled on the top of the mountains, but as you can see in the photo, I was comfortable in my jeans and tshirt.  Yet it wasn't until April that we began to experience a string of lovely days.  April began as hormonal as ever, but over the weekend yielded up some sunnier days, inspiring some hiking, biking, walking, and zoo-going.

One location that I have heard people mention time and time again is that of Pustevny.  This mountain houses some traditional wooden buildings, and from there you can hike past a sculpture of Radegast, a pagan god that used to be worshiped in these parts.  When I hear "Radegast," I think of the local brewery; so in honor of local business, I had to visit Radegast.  Moreover, if you continue on to Radhošt', you can see a chapel with a sculpture of Cyril and Methodious in front--the men who brought Christianity to the Czech lands.  I had my inaugural visit on Saturday.

After a sticky 45-minute bus ride, I met Hanka and Karel, and the three of us drove to the base of Pustevny.  They quickly gave me a choice of hiking up a steep hill or going by lift.  Still being sticky and still not really believing that our days are so much longer there, we got tickets for the ski lift.  We had a luxurious (and somewhat butterfly-in-the-stomach-inspiring) ride up to the summit.  From there we hiked to Radhošt' and back before taking scooters down the mountain.  I was fearful as we started, aware of how little control I had as I began speeding and bumping along down the hill, leaning into curves, bending my knees as I went through loose gravel and potholes, shifting my weight back to avoid any injuries.  At one point I just had to stop, breath in the beauty, and breath out a prayer of thankfulness.

The sun continued into Sunday, and I journeyed with some expats to the zoo to see the famous Rashmi.  Rashmi is a one-year-old elephant, the first elephant (with her twin, now deceased, brother) to be born in this country.  She's famous and cute, and I had to visit her.  The zoo visit was filled with less adrenaline and more sugar, as we kept our eyes out for soft-serve ice cream (you can't get it in the zoo, but you can get it 100 m outside the zoo).  There were even giant wooden deck-chair-esque islands set up near lemur island.  We lounged under the sun on them, our movements slow and methodical all afternoon.

You could hardly believe how spoiled I felt when Monday continued to be sunny.  I took the opportunity to get some ice cream, walk around a park in the city centre, and read on a bench for a bit.  As much as I love the sun's affirmation, I loathe being overheated.  Monday night was rough, as I had the heat of the day complicating already stirred emotions.  Tuesday (and it's continued sunshine) proved to carry an antidote, as I joined my roommate and 27 others on the Young Life Bike Ride.  The group was composed mostly of high schoolers from various schools in the area.  We biked from Ostrava to Hukvaldy--where I previously hiked with Žaneta.

All in all the trip was 75 km, when counted from my flat.  The leaders of the trip did a good job of taking pit stops for water, snacks, and (at the end) ice cream.  Knowing how steep the mountain was that we had to climb to get to the castle, I decided not to actually bike up to the castle, preferring to lounge with some others.  Rain greeted us a couple times on our return, but even that was delightful after a day of warmth, good company, beautiful countryside, and active bodies.  So, dear friends, I'm sorry if I neglect you in this cold cyber-world, you can guess where I'll be.


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