Saturday in Dobrzyn

Instead of putting up Readers’ Wildlife today (don’t worry, I’m saving every submission I get), I’ll post some pictures of what happened yesterday. Nothing really “happened” except the usual peaceful domesticity that pervades the place, but for new readers, and those who like these photos, I’ll document the day.

When I awoke, Hili and Cyrus were sleeping together on the couch. Hili went out briefly after breakfast, but spent almost all day beside me on the smaller couch where I was working. I thus got plenty of Cat Fix.

Hili and Cyrus

Here’s where I’m staying: a house named “Smultronstället” from the Swedish (Andrzej and Malorzata lived in Sweden for many years). The literal translation is “the place where the wild strawberries grow,” but in Sweden it’s an idiom for “the place you like to go.” There are extensive grounds that run down to the wide Vistula river, and about 3,000 cherry trees. The cherry harvest ended right before I arrived. The nearby village of Dobrzyn is tiny, with about 3,000 residents (one per cherry tree).


Hili’s breakfast included a foil tube of Japanese “cat’s snack” sent by Hiroko, the woman who made and embroidered my lovely cat shirt. We previously had squeezed the tube, containing a meaty or fishy paste, into a bowl, but Hiroko said that was doing it wrong, and gave instructions for feeding Hili that were pure poetry: “Let a cat lick those snacks from the small cut end of the pack. You can give it little by little.” She added a link showing the proper feeding technique.

Hili really enjoys those snacks!

Hili cat snacks

Malgorzata and Andrzej on the front steps with Cyrus, who is now in fine shape and has become much less nervous since he was adopted.

A, M, and Cyrus

Cyrus the d*g:


Lunchtime, or, as it’s known in Poland, “second breakfast.” As I’ve said, Poles are like hobbits, eating four or five meals a day. I call them “first breakfast” to “fifth breakfast.” We have diluted cherry juice (for me), bread, fresh vegetables from the garden of Elzbieta (Leon’s staff), two kinds of cheese, and Polish ham and sausages (two kinds of sausages). Yum! Cyrus is standing by should a scrap come his way.


The cherries didn’t ripen simultaneously this year, so after the harvest there were still many lingering on the trees. 30 metric tons were harvested and sold to the wholesaler for only 1.30 zlotys per kilo (that’s only 33 U.S. cents per kilo, or 15¢ per pound). Nearly all of the cherries are sour cherries suitable for pies and jams, but that’s fine with me as it provides me with plenty of cherry pies.

It wasn’t worth the pickers going back to the orchard after the harvest was over, as the price is too low to justify further harvest. There are thus plenty of trees that look like this:


In the afternoon we went picking for both dinner (see below) and Sunday’s pie. I was instructed to look for the ripest cherries, which are nearly purple:

Picking cherries

One basket of ripe pie cherries:


We instructed Hili to guard the cherries while we relaxed:

Hili guarding cherries

Can you spot the cat? If Hili didn’t have white markings, she’d be hard to see!
Spot the cat

In the afternoon we took a walk with Cyrus down to the river. On the way back, Andrzej played fetch with Cyrus’s ball, a game they both love. Later in the day I played fetch with Cyrus using some of the uneaten apples that litter the garden (see above). Cyrus actually nommed part of an apple while bringing it back: the first time he’s been known to eat fruit.

Cyrus and ball

I volunteered to pit the cherries for dinner. The pitter is an ingenious plastic device that simultaneously pits the cherries, plunges the pits and some juice into the tub below, and ejects the pitted cherries down a chute, under which we put a bowl for collection. It’s a great invention.

Pitting cherries

The pitted cherries were cooked and made into what Malgorzata calls “nursery food”: noodles, cherries, yogurt, and a wee bit of sugar. (This was invented by Malgorzata as a much simpler version of pierogi, or Polish dumplings, which are sometimes filled with cherries and served with sour cream.) It was a fine dinner, and for my second course I had cherry pie.

Nursery dinner

The last piece! But another pie will be made today.

Cherry pie

I got to drink the cherry juice, too. You haven’t lived until you’ve quaffed a glass of pure, undiluted cherry juice exuded by the pitted fruit. Tonight I’m going to add a bit to my beer (I favor “Zubr” [bison] beer) to see if I can replicate the taste of Belgian fruit beers.

Cherry juice

Self portrait in my room with a carved Polish chair:
Self portrait

In the evening we paid a visit to the future home of Leon and his staff, Elzbieta and Andrzej (yes, another Andrzej). Sadly, Leon wasn’t in attendance but we’ll visit soon when he is. They all bought a lovely piece of land not far from Dobrzyn, and, as I posted before, just bought an old wooden house in southern Poland that they’ll have disassembled, moved here, and then reassembled on the property. They’ll sell their city flat in Wroclawek and will move here; Leon will then be able to roam free.

Elzbieta and Andrzej in the flower and vegetable garden they planted while clearing the land. Note the cucumbers, which are delicious. Their and Leon’s property runs back to the woods you can see to the left.


The tumbledown shack on the property that will be demolished to make room for the wooden house:


This is the house that will be moved to the property above (I’ve posted it before):


A picture Elzbieta took showing the fog on their property two days ago:


Good night!



  1. Posted July 31, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    This is a lovely cold cherry soup from Hungary: refreshing and surprisingly savoury on a hot Budapest evening in 1990. A revelation to me. Wikipedia says that the Poles have a version.

  2. David Duncan
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Do Hili and/or Cyrus eat things given to them by visitors, or only from Andrzej and Malorzata?

  3. Malgorzata
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Hili is so greedy that she will take anything edible from everybody. Cyrus, who for four years was languishing in an animal shelter and came to us when he was 10 years old, is used to different people feeding him. He, too, accepts food from other people than us.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      You and Andrzej has an excellent taste in house names, I must say!

  4. Posted July 31, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Next vicarious request: Pierogi, crepes, blueberry mazurka, and some sheep’s cheese.

  5. michieux
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I enjoy these posts immensely.

    • bluemaas
      Posted July 31, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      O, as do I !

      And, particularly, All Things Cherry !
      And, of course, the darling Hili !

      Quite altogether calming —

      • Carlos Allen
        Posted July 31, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        The same here! It’s like I’m on vacations too, and in great company. Delightful!

    • kansaskitty
      Posted August 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Me, too! I’ll probably never get to go there in person, but love the travelogues and learning of local traditions.

  6. Posted July 31, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It is a civilized society indeed which has five meals a day.

  7. Monika
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Aaaaaah the food porn posts from Poland are starting!

    I think I’ll make a comfort food from my childhood, Mus-Kartoffeln mit Kirschsuppe
    mashed patatos with bacon bits and Morello cherry soup.
    It’s so simple to make, just boil the potatos, pour out all the water, mash them and add fried bacon bits. The cherry soup is just as easy, basically cooked cherries in their own juice (plus some water), sugar to taste and thickened with corn or potato starch.

  8. Mobius
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    OK…now I’m hungry.

  9. Debbie Coolan
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I’m glad Cyrus got such an amazing home with wonderful people.

  10. rickflick
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Life is good.

  11. Claudia Baker
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I love everything about this post.

    Even though I’m not really a dog person (and my cat would have a conniption if I brought one into the house), I adore that Cyrus was rescued from the shelter after being there for so long! He is a lucky boy indeed. Such a beautiful life he has now!

    Hili, of course, is absolutely wonderful. Or, “totes adorbs” as my former high school students would say.

  12. Posted July 31, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    These photos! I remember the ones from last year and likewise thinking that the life there looks ideal. When I retire, I hope to live in a similar environment with a garden and good people. Absolutely wonderful.

  13. aldoleopold
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Everything seems right in the world when you’re sharing these adventures from Poland – idyllic vistas, contented days, and agreeable company. The “Smultronstället”…is there an equivalent that includes the word cherries? 🙂

  14. barn owl
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I know that “hopeful dog” look all too well, I’m afraid. What idyllic surroundings, and such a lovely name for the house!

    Add me to the lengthening list of fans of such posts – it’s relaxing to read them and look at the photos.

  15. Richard Portman
    Posted July 31, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    How nice! How lovely! Thank you Dr Coyne for sharing this, and greetings to your friends in Poland.

  16. Posted July 31, 2016 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I think you have found heaven. As an atheist, I don’t believe in an afterlife… but I never realized one could achieve it while still on earth.

    Don’t forget to tell your human friends there that they have real fans in the US. Hili, Cyrus, and Leon are wonderful critters, but their humans are far more wonderful.

  17. Mike
    Posted August 1, 2016 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    What a gorgeous and peaceful place to live.

  18. Posted August 1, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I agree about the cherry juice! I’ve enjoyed it in July in Provence. Wonderful. Wonderful with vodka as well!

    • bluemaas
      Posted August 1, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      And, for our weer ones too, the juice in to colas for that old – fashioned fountain fizz’s blast – from – the – past: cherry cokes !


      ps Make mine, however, w/ rum or your wodka !

  19. LG
    Posted August 1, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a wonderful place.

  20. Ali Bahmanpour
    Posted August 2, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    “You haven’t lived until you’ve quaffed a glass of pure, undiluted cherry juice exuded by the pitted fruit.”
    I completely agree.

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