I spent the weekend in the Czech Republic with one of my very best friends, Sierra. Most of the time was spent filming for a short documentary so I only have a handful of photographs of Prague itself...But, here are a few images and a tale that could only be produced outside the city limits...everything is better in the rain.
Sunday had a late start. A neglected alarm clock caused us to leave the flat a quarter-past noon. Bored of the city life we’ve been adhering to all semester, we set out for nature. We took the advice of the internet and hopped on a few transits that brought us to the end of the 119 bus line. Unaware of the discovery to ensue, we took our first steps onto the trails of Divoká Šárka, a nature reserve balancing on the Northwestern edge of Prague’s perimeter.
[ Divoká - Wild. ] [ Šárka - a Czech girl's name ] Wild Šárka. Wild girl.
When we started out, a light mist glistened in the air. Families of hikers with their sporty dogs spotted the open trails and we could hear echoes of laughing kids and beaming friends. The further we walked away from the shelter of town, the more condensed the mist became, forming heavier raindrops, melting the soils of Šárka. The peaking clouds illuminated the lush tones of the foliage and casted a shadow across the pale grey sky, enticing our excitement. The hues of the leaves magnified the day’s atmosphere, we had stepped into the ultimate fruition between the dullness of summer’s debris and the vibrancy of autumn’s awakening.
We were overwhelmed by the acute sounds we could pick up with the Zoom audio recorder I had brought with from Paris ...the softness of the droplets sliding off the grass.. the tangled vines underneath our treads...The whole weekend, Sierra kept playing with a looking glass pocket-toy she picked up in Berlin. When coupled with the Zoom, life became an orchestrated sensory overload. Imagine the two of us, one eye on the mirror, one eye ahead - headphones on, seeing forward and backwards, creating tessellating patterns with the view through our open eye, overlaid with what we saw through the mirrored eye. Now add the subtleties of every sound in the forest.
It was pretty cool.
We walked along the river until we veered deeper into the trees, leaning towards the base of the hill in hopes of following a path to the top of the bluff to our east. As daylight dwindled, we utilized Sierra's growing Czech skills and my talk-to-anyone attitude for directions from fellow hikers. They turned us around and pointed us towards the park’s entry. We uncovered a narrow dirt path, coated with the beginnings of mud from the fine pellets that had been hinting at the hillside all afternoon. Up and up we went. Every corner, I kept thinking, ohhhh THIS must be the best view. But then, just like the previous 10 views, the next one proved better. We reached the top alone with little to no shelter from the rain now cultivating in the clouds, hanging heavy in the expansive sky. The rain intensified and lessened, washing in and out of the constant haze of mist circulating in the air. The mud was building up now. Sierra wanted to roll around in it. I wanted to be a baby dinosaur.
We had the right idea.
When we reached the end of the trail, the grassy hilltop rolled over to a bare field dotted with emerging rock faces. I stayed back to get an angle for filming while Sierra skipped ahead. I could make out a smile on her face through the viewfinder; her hand motioned me to come take a look.
We perched ourselves on the limbs of the ledge. Precariously inching our sneakers over the slippery rocks. I studied how the water pooled in each crevasse and trickled down the cliff, as if it was dripping down the nodes of a backbone. Sierra continued across the ridge, fading in and out of view, popping up and waving in the distance on the new ledges she had found. I was soaking in the site (literally) and shielding the camera with my sopping scarf and jacket, capturing what I could. Mentally holding onto what I couldn't.
The rain had really been getting into the camera now, and I started to notice that the buttons were slow to respond and the screen was covered in condensation. I couldn't see what I was photographing anymore. Everything was blurred. In reality and in photography. I laid the camera flat against my abdomen and zipped it under my coat, hoping to protect it from what might have already done damage.
The camera emerged from its resting place only to witness Sierra bounding and twirling through the open fields, scattered with flocks of dried wildflowers, and then was wiped off again and zipped under isolation of my oversized and over-saturated army coat. I couldn’t help but imagine the terror that would strike if the good ol’ Cannon blacked out, waterlogged. WITH NO OTHER WAY TO DOCUMENT THIS DAY. *gasp*
It was worth it.
No setting of the sun was needed to announce the arrival of dusk. By this time in the afternoon, we were so weathered that a sudden pause in our stride allowed us to feel the depths of our chill. The soil had liquefied into a winding mudslide and traction became a trick for my flat-bottomed sneaks. My balance was thrown-off downward slope, the camera mass under my coat counteracted the motions of my body. All balance and slipperiness aside, we trekked down equally as thrilled as when we had embarked.
With skies still grey, and rain still exhaling, we returned to her flat off I.P Pavlova and spent the night in sweaters, graced with a movie and more pancakes than we could conquer... Two friends in the middle of Eastern Europe, just Czeching out the planet on which we live.
We had the best day.
I fell asleep, there, on her couch with 4 hrs to spare before goodbye – a hug in the dark, and her words, "I'll see you somewhere else in the world."