Thursday, 19 July 2007

The walk home

Our small village is about 20 minutes walk from Horice Na Sumave and the bus stop for Cesky Krumlov. Well it is 20 minutes if you walk briskly, more like 30 if like me you dawdle and enjoy the views.

The walk takes you past the village crucifix and pond and up a short steep hill. On one side is a semi-derelict farm, from which I am always amazed to see lights burning at night, on the other a small huddle of trees where the local children have created a den. At the top of the hill you pass some tumble down walls made of the local granite. These push in at either side and on the left even seem to form some sort of circular structure. Perhaps these are all that is left of the toll gate that gave the village its name - I do not know despite checking the map in the local museum. Passing over the hill the narrow road drops down into Horice. When I first arrived the road was an overgrown track, which was impassable in the snows of 2006 (I know I tried and sank up to my waist in snow before giving up), now the road is tarmaced thanks to some funding from the EU. The view across to Horice Na Sumave is a lovely one, any time of year, but particularly in winter (see above).

Often on my walk I see the local wildlife - buzzards sweeping the air searching for rabbits, deer grazing at the field's edge under the eaves of the woods. Once I even came across an adder sunning itself on the warm tarmac, which I was relieved to see slipped away to the long grass verge as I approached. You pass under the main road to Lipno and into the town. Occasionally loud marching music abruptly breaks the silence from some loudspeakers sited on a pole as you enter the town followed by some sort of announcement. My friend tells me that this is a legacy of the communist times.

The way home at night is a very different experience. The last bus gets in about 11.00 and so the walk is done in the dark. The EU did not provide any lighting and in many ways I am glad of it. If the sky is clear, you get a wonderful panorama of stars and planets, unspoilt by light pollution. I find on such occasions the walk takes even longer as I keep stopping to look up. Once I was even rewarded with a sensational display of shooting stars. I am reminded of my childhood, when my dad and I used to go out with our dog and whilst the dog did his business in the bushes, we would try to identify the constellations. When the sky is clouded over, my walk home is a different story. The road is very dark, with only the pool of light from my torch. I lose track of where I am. But I can tell as I get towards the top of the hill, from the soft breathing of the cattle and the more alarming bellow of the bull. Once over the brow the village lights appear reassuringly beneath my feet. I can see the front of my house illuminated by a streetlamp. Within a few minutes I am home.

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