The eggs come care of Ales’s dad who owns a half-roost of chickens. They’re tended to by another man in exchange for land. The chickens’ home is dad’s own, a big compound property, former factory, where workers once packaged pickled and otherwise-flavored fish. The yolks of these parking-lot local eggs are so orange so scrambled they’re so yellow; suspiciously so, they’d be, if say, served at an American diner.
We’re far from America though, even if parts look the part, like the big box grocery stores and two-story malls. “No zombie movie can keep mall architecture from relaxing me!” I skip down the indoor sidewalk, skylight lit, with 3000 korunas (about 120 bucks) in my wallet; that is enough to buy a week of high-quality supplies for two.
We buy: strawberries, bananas, avocados, carrots, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, spinach, basil, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, tofu, salami, rice milk, rice cereal, red wine, chocolate, cookies, etc. etc. etc.
I don’t speak the language, I can barely parse where words start and end, so Ales is in charge. I love feeling in his charge. How much is this candy daddy?
A traditional Czech dish is beef with bread dumplings and this creamy pumpkin-y sauce. They cover the whole plate in it, the meat swims, the abundant dumplings aren’t enough to sop it up. To finish the sauce you’d need a spoon but that much cream would make me sick. I almost forgot!—this dish they garnish with whipped cream and at center of that: a small plop of cranberry sauce. I’ve ordered it twice.
At the cabin, days are organized around meals. Breakfast gets me out of bed. Lunch rewards morning writing. Dinner is little, sometimes it’s just dessert. When we venture out it’s for food and/or Internet. There are a few places where we can get both. We walk 30, 60, 90 minutes up and downhill for Gmail, garlic soup, and tea.
I never feel fat here, not even after the goose.
The goose: it’s served like the duck, a whole, half, or quarter bird, with salty soppy cabbage, potatoes, and beer; the beer isn’t optional. Even Ales who shouldn’t drink gluten-stuffs will have a little. After that we crash.
Languor is the word. Sultry languor, stillness. Languorous bodies slipping into nap. I’m relearning to follow my body. Hungry, I eat. Restless, I walk. Stiff, stretch. Sexy, sex. Nap nap nap.
The anxious city person’s “how are you feeling?” has been replaced with “what do you feel like today?”
Today I feel like scrambled eggs and avocado toast, green herbal coffee, soy yogurt; smoked mackerel with tartar sauce, Jung-Spinat salad, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and those green olives stuffed with skinless almonds; miso soup, beet chips, raw dark chocolate.
“Breakfast gets me out of bed. Lunch rewards morning writing.”
Ales has just discovered bread and olive oil, “just bread and olive oil, what a perfect snack! We should always have this out.” This endears me endlessly.
Endless is another word. Boundless, unlimited, immeasurable. When I finally opened my email after four days off, there was one in there quoting Kanye: “The only thing that’s valuable is time. It’s the only thing we can’t get back. The only luxury is time.” In New York, I eat meals out, buy prepared, to save on time. Whole Foods Salad Bar. Cold Pressed Juice To Go. Bklyn Larder Duck Breast, “No I’ll Just Eat It Cold.” Sandwiches. Sandwiches. And GloOoOria’s. Thinking you need to save time, spending time thinking about the limits of time, “I’m so behind on my deadlines,” “How have you been?” “Busy,” only makes time fly faster. Because time is so much more than clock time. Time zones we invite to keep trains on schedule. Capitalism! Technology! Body time is flexible. Sometimes when Ales and I have sex it’ll feel like an hour but actually have been four (just as one can feel like four). After orgasms I often ask, “how long do you think that was?” Why! Who cares? Felt like forever! That’s the cool trick.
Forgetting about time is the luxury. It is afforded to those who can organize themselves away from the strictures of clock time, of capitalist schedules, punching in and out, making that meeting.
You needn’t much empty clock time to forget about time. This luxury isn’t only for the likes of Kanye, so rich. I can forget for an hour and in that feel infinite. Cooking—I’m remembering here now at the cabin—can be a meditative activity, time for forgetting. Chopping garlic, onions, carrots, celery, stirring the pot (I’m making Bolognese), my mind floats to childhood and back, to cracking eggs on flour, cranking pasta flat with dad, Colin, Monique (there are eggs in me too, I fantasize their future sunny side up). Remembering that slow cooking is a souvenir I hope to bring back to New York where friends and colleagues are right now. I wonder what they’re doing. I miss Durga texting: what did you have for lunch?
Love from CZ,
Fiona (& Ales)
Fiona Duncan is a freelance writer and fairheaded darkwarrior. She lives in New York.