Tuesday, 26 February 2008

My first winter in the house 2

My plans for staying in the house were delayed by the exploding pipe in the bathroom. It was obvious that the house was only just beginning to thaw out and so I spent a week driving up to the house from Cesky Krumlov. There I lit the stove in the downstairs front room, and met a succession of plumbers and electricians who came to measure up the house for new electrics, plumbing and the central heating which was now so obviously necessary. The other task I set myself was to measure the footprint of the house and stables so that I could fill in the horrendous multi-page form to register for landtax. This was harder than one might think - the snow was piled up to my waist and even higher at the back and sides of the barn and so I had to dig a path through with an old shovel. This took me several days.

When the daylight began to fail each day, I drove home to my friend's house in Cesky Krumlov. Finally I was confident enough that I could get one room (the large front one downstairs) warm enough to be bearable. That last evening before my first full day in my Czech house as I drove home I came upon an adult male deer in the centre of the village. He was standing stock still in front of the village crucifix. It looked almost as if the cross was between his antlers. I was reminded of the legend of St Hubertus, patron saint of hunters and therefore so appropriate for the Czechs. Of course the Christian legend of the saintly hunter coming upon the divine stag has its antecedents in the Celtic legends of the horned god of the underworld. In the halflight on that magical evening the lord of the forest turned slowly and departed into the darkness and I carried on.

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