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.
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!
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.
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:
One basket of ripe pie cherries:
We instructed Hili to guard the cherries while we relaxed:
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.
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.
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.
The last piece! But another pie will be made today.
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.
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: