Friday, October 7, 2011

Mica’s Paradise

Once or twice a month I’ve had it with city life, and then I flee to Granny Mica (say Mitsa). Granny Mica lives about half an hour south-east of Belgrade in a cottage on the Danube. She has an enormous garden, and where her garden stops, vineyards start in all directions. Crickets chirp, and way off in the distance a dog may raise its voice, but other than that, it’s wondrously peaceful at Mica’s. She is about a hundred years old, has no running water so the toily is behind the tree in the middle of the garden, and she loves me. When I show up, with the town still buzzing in my ears, she waits for me at the gate, grabs me and presses a few big, slobbery kisses all over me. Then she sets me down next to her and sits there, watching me trying to catch my breath, while cats and dogs jump me and settle in my lap.

Granny Mica on her porch in Paradise
During the day, the trees absorb the sunlight and radiate it, glowing bright green. And in the evening a honey colored haze rises from the river. When we want to drink of cup of tea, we walk into the garden (away from the toily tree in the middle of it) and pick some nana-leaves. Pears and apples hang from trees everywhere; you can just reach out and pick one. And nothing here is ever sprayed with chemicals. Neither the tea nor the apples nor the pears nor the cherries nor the grapes that hang in big fat clusters from branches that are only disturbed by the rare passer-by.

The Dabube river is a few hundred meters away—it takes a trick or two to get there. Paths exist but they’re not marked and you have know about them, which I don’t. But that makes for wonderful walks in the cool of the afternoon, trying to find out where all the paths go.

And on my journeys I pass the occasional shed or small house, invariably occupied by ancient little ladies with brilliant, pearl white hair and the eyes of young girls. I don’t speak the language, but everybody knows I’m Mica’s guest, so they call my name from afar and wave at me, and when I approach they give me slices of pie and hands fulls of nana-leaves and cherries and pears and apples.

There are only two restrictions at Mica’s. I’m not allowed to go out exploring for a path to the river while wearing sandals and shorts. Mica and her neighbors never cease to warn me that there are snakes hiding in the grass. And then, of course I’m not allowed to eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden. But who would want to do a foolish thing like that?

Me and the Toily Tree

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