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If Kafka Welcomes Spring, Can Summer Be Far Behind?

4807642892_042ac4d5f9_z

In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

08 April 1917

I seem to end in the most absurd situations. This afternoon, before Sunday dinner, Ottla took me away for some gardening. Rooting around in the earth, with the frost barely gone. Only Ottla could find such a plot of ground in Prague, or expect me to grub about in it like some hungry animal.

It was obviously some sort of communal land – such places are popular during this war. There were even families at work. Children also. One small boy was caught between his interest in the garden, and his desire to be a small boy. And what a dilemma it was. He’d work in the ground for awhile, following the example of his mother, then suddenly race around, exploring like a small boy. He came over to Ottla and me, and hunkered down beside us. He shook his head with a sigh of exasperation, and reached over to put his hands on mine. “Mummy says that’s wrong,” and with great patience and determination, began to show me how to prepare the earth. I thought there could be no better proof to Ottla of how inept I was.

I followed the movements of his hands, and between us, we dug quite a hole. At last the little fellow stood, obviously satisfied. “I go now,” he said, and ran away to see some other entertaining oddity. Ottla hadn’t laughed for fear of offending the boy, but she didn’t show such restraint when we were finally alone.

It fell to me to find the flowers.

Such things prove God’s sense of humour, for I have no interest or understanding for flowers. There was a fellow at university who could talk about flowers for hours. Otherwise, he was quite pleasant to be with. So it seems a joke that I would find them, between a pile of rubble and the wall of a house.

I had been exploring, much as the little fellow had done. In fact, he was running past when I found them, so I showed him also. They were white, with frail leaves close to the ground. Quite nondescript. But the boy was fascinated. He put his face close, although he didn’t touch them.

“Can I tell Mummy?” He obviously thought they were my flowers. “Yes,” I said, and he ran to get her. She followed him as he chattered all the way, and then she too hesitated, looking at me cautiously. “Perhaps your wife would like to see them,” she suggested. It took a moment to realize she was referring to Ottla. The flowers had become my possession. “Yes,” I said, “And tell anyone you like.”  “The first flowers of Spring,” she said, and she went to tell the others, taking care to stop at Ottla first.

Tiny white flowers.

I can still not believe the looks upon their faces, as they crowded around. Even the children were silent.

The relief they showed.

 

(Image)https:/farm5.staticflickr.com/4122/4807642892_042ac4d5f9_z.jpg

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Kafka Encounters The Storm And Weather Of Spring

winter-to-spring2

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the missing entries of his actual diaries.  There are many days to fill, as he either did not write during these days, or he destroyed the record. This is how I imagined he spent the beginning of Spring a hundred years ago. He was staying with his sister on a farm in a small village a train trip from Prague

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

20 March 1918

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. But today it is cold, and raining in torrents. “Welcome to a Bohemian spring.” was the greeting – and the sympathy – of the hired hand. “You may wish you were back in Prague, Herr Doktor.” But then, he doesn’t know Prague.

As usual, Ottla saw to it that her ill and elderly brother was taken care of as much as possible. She encountered me in the shed with an armful of paraphernalia. The winds preclude the use of an umbrella (which sight might be too strange for Zurau anyway), so I was offered either a cape to put over my winter coat, or a long, seemingly oiled garment, to replace the coat. An odd, peaked cap was affixed to my head, which supposedly channelled the water to fall behind me. There was a walking stick (which I rather fancied) to help me probe the depth of puddles and streams. And finally a pair of thick and uncomfortable boots, which came to just below my knees. Into which I had to carefully tuck my trousers. After all this was accomplished, Ottla pointed to my person and said “But I’ve forgotten to get … ” However, I did not wait for further entanglement. Prepared, as even Noah was for his own deluge, I fled into the afternoon.

 

21 March 1918

Colder than it has been for the past couple of weeks. Around here called a “cold snap”. Enough to return ice to the puddles. Otherwise it is a glorious and sunny day. When it is said that someone can change their mind like the weather, this is what they must mean. It was joy to go into it (no hour of preparation from Ottla), and I went for a longer than usual walk. The warmth of the sun upon my face. The wind – fortunately – at my back when I returned. Content as the dumbest of animals.

(image)http://www.davidfirth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/winter-to-spring2.jpg

Seasons, Storms And Mushrooms Enhance Life And Love

 

the-perfect-storm-in-digital-marketing-q1Dear Eustace:

Summer wings its indolent way past,

and the petal touch of fall floats the air.

If one refused to meld into the other,

would thoughts of mortality arise?

I have often wished

– no, not upon the distant stars (shooting stars are dying a hot death, did you ever think of that?) –

but upon the green/mauve bud and the chill of September morns.

The wishes and the dreams … oh, my.

Have you noticed the abundance of mushrooms this year,

ink caps thrusting to the sky?

Such treats

– such tasty, tasty, treats.

Yours,

Margot.

 

*******

Dear Margot:

The seasons each have their place,

and since I get pleasure from them all,

their comings,

goings

(or, if you wish – passings)

seem not the least profound.

I certainly shan’t waste my time pondering over morality

– what, after all, is more immortal than the changing seasons?

And what might your wishes be, my friend?

I rarely do little more than reach out my hand,

and am fulfilled.

There is so much bounty to partake of

– and no better displayed then at this time of year

(your seasons; Bursting seasons).

Ah, the summer sun has warmed me,

but the crisp fall eve shall make me more appreciate

a warm lady snuggled by my side.

Watch out for mushrooms,

they make the body lament a single bed.

Yours,

Eustace

 

 

*******

Dear Eustace:

My wishes would leave you

– yes, even you –

dazzled.

There aren’t heights on the earth tall enough to reach them,

and the ocean depths would soon be full,

if ever I let my hopes accumulate.

Ask not after a person’s dreams, for you could easily violate a soul.

I put more trust in the unspoken word,

and the unseen deed,

for they are oft the strongest.

There is chill enough in the air this morning to make your warm ladies

work overtime to keep you in a happy state.

What a storm was loosed upon the world last night.

I fear the poor mushrooms

will be more mush than anything else.

I fill my bed quite happily, sir,

do not lament for me.

Yours,

Margot

 

 

*******

Dear Margot:

I shall trust unspoken words

when my ears hurt from the noise they make.

I hear too much as it is,

voices full-primed with choice advice and platitudes,

whether from the pulpit or a cozy bed companion.

You’d be surprised the little that I heed.

With so much new in life,

so much to taste and try,

the wonder lies in the drabness of most lives.

From where do so many fears spring,

and how do they exist?

We also had a grand storm across our lands,

but I had not ignored the signs, and thus picked

a bounty of the succulent fungi.

Whether they aided me or not I can’t say,

but my rest did seem more deserved than usual.

Yours,

Eustace

ps Moira sends again her thanks for your hospitality.

 

DE

(image)https://brand-quarterly-veseycreative.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/The-Perfect-Storm-In-Digital-Marketing-Q1.jpg

Reality & Imagination – It Looked Familiar

9615874-an-aged-statue-of-an-angel-holding-a-harp-stock-photo-wings

THE REALITY: (from REALITY)

While away on a trip I had cause to walk the grounds of a Catholic college. I did this often as it was a large and peaceful place to wander. There were some paths, some gardens, some benches, wide playing fields and even a stroll beside a river. A peaceful retreat from the city (though I enjoyed the city).

I did meet one ancient priest telling his beads (there was a ‘retirement’ residence also present) who gave me a jovial ‘good day’. He was walking the paths through the trees (as was I) and eventually settled on a bench (as  I did not). I kept through the trees, which were really planted in individual copses. enjoying refuge from the sun. The trees seemed to be all pines, with full and tightly packed branches. As I went through one such group of firs I looked between the trees. There was a statue on the other side, so I circled and went up to it. As I approached I was overcome with the oddest feeling of familiarity, though I knew I could never had been there before. It also did not have any of the attendant feelings of deja vu.

And then.

And then I realized what it was. It was a scene I had created for my two ‘Satan’ novels, where a central character has the statue of an angel within a copse of firs in his back yard. Where he had a ghostly encounter of a dearly loved but harshly departed friend. My novel has an angel statue and reality had the Virgin Mary. But, still . . .

I’ve written of many real places which I have visited, but none took me so aback as this.

 

THE ART: (from THERE HAS BEEN A SIGHTING)

Mr. S. unexpectedly takes her arm, and begins to lead her along a winding, flagstone path. She has never seen such large pieces of the stone, and they glisten as if polished.
The path skirts a small stand of black spruce before it continues to the river. He stops her at the mouth of a gravel walkway leading through the trees.
“Let’s pop in here.”
“Your little acre of the Black Forest?”
“Hardly an acre.”
“Precision.” Breeze laughs. “Whatever would my father think of you?”
“Does any father think well of any man when his daughter is concerned?”
“Probably not.”
“No,” agrees Mr. S. “So not to worry.”
“He would think even less of someone leading his daughter down the garden path,” observes Breeze.
“That would be before he saw what I am about to show you.”
Mr. S. holds her arm tightly, and guides her onto the gravel walk. It leads directly to the base of a tree, then makes an abrupt curve between the largest of the spruce.
One of the boughs is so low Breeze ducks her head. She has the sensation of being in the midst of a forest, for the heavy branches obscure the surroundings.
“If I may be permitted a moment of drama.”
Mr. S. covers her eyes and speaks softly.
“Will you turn to your right, and take a few steps?”
Even though he had asked, Breeze is startled as he gently eases her forward, and she feels a slight urge to resist him. Her steps are more cautious than the gravel walkway demands, and the press of his body is noticeable. She counts her footsteps under her breath. She is surprised when they stop at half a dozen, and he quickly removes his hand.
“She’s beautiful.” Breeze stares, open-mouthed.
“Yes.” Mr. S. is pleased. “I think so, too.”
“An angel in the woods.”
“The angel of peace.” Mr. S. walks her around the statue. “Not at all bad for a knockoff.” He pauses behind the wings.
“A knockoff?”
“A reproduction.” He puts his foot on the pedestal, and leans forward. “I don’t really know how old it is. Certainly last century – possibly before.” He points to the blue folds. “I’ve had the paint cleaned and touched up. Is it too garish?”
“It … it stands out.” Breeze hunts for a word. “Let’s call it vibrant.”
“They said it was probably close to the original colour.” Mr. S. walks around the statue and again halts beside Breeze. “Since she stands in so much shade, it’s for the best she stands with lots of colour.”
“Do you believe in angels?”
“I’ve just had a night-long fight with Satan. I have to believe in angels.”
“Does she have a name?” Breeze leans forward to inspect the angel’s outstretched hand.
“I’ve never given her one.”
“That’s one of your suspicious half answers.” Breeze grins.
“When Mother Ursula spoke to her, she called her `Pet’.”
“Pet?”
“`How are we today, Pet?’ `You got a soaking last night,
Pet’.” Mr. S. glances at the statue’s face. “That sort of thing.”
“Oh.” Breeze also decides to look at the angel’s face. “It’s not what you’d call a Christian name.”
“Ursula would get a laugh out of that.” Mr. S. smiles slightly. “And so would the angel.” He turns toward Breeze. “And so do I.” He takes her hand. “Which is probably your intent, so I won’t again slip into the past tense when talking about Ursula.”
“She’s not dead yet.”
“Her living will gives the machines seventy-two hours.” Mr. S. looks at the angel. “I suspect it’s a wry Christian reference.”
“So if she rises on the third day, we won’t be surprised.”
“You have more optimism than even the Sisters.” He glances at her. “And they tend the machines.”
“Machines have their place.”
“Yes.” Mr. S. releases her hand. “But so does death.”

DE

(image) http://bigpreviews.123rf.com/images/bwf211/bwf2111105/bwf211110500086/9615874-An-aged-statue-of-an-angel-holding-a-harp–Stock-Photo-wings.jpg

Reality and Art and the World Between

THE REALITY: (from REALITY)

A few years ago I had cause to walk the grounds of a Catholic college. I did this often, as it was a large and peaceful place to wander. There were some paths, some gardens, some benches, wide playing fields and even a stroll beside a river. A peaceful retreat from the city.

I did meet one ancient priest telling his beads (there was a ‘retirement’ residence also present) who gave me a jovial ‘good day’. He was walking the paths through the trees (as was I) and eventually settled on a bench (as  I did not). I kept through the trees, which were really planted in individual copses. enjoying refuge from the sun. The trees seemed to be all pines, with full and tightly packed branches. As I went through one such group of firs, I looked between the trees. There was a statue on the other side. I circled and went up to it. As I approached I was overcome with the oddest feeling of familiarity, though I knew I could never had been there before.

And then.

And then I realized what it was.

It was a scene I had created for my two ‘Satan’ novels. A central character has the statue of an angel within a copse of firs in his back yard. My novel has an angel statue ,and reality had the Virgin Mary. But, still . . .

I’ve written of many real places which I have visited, but none took me so aback as this.

THE ART: (from THERE HAS BEEN A SIGHTING)

Mr. S. unexpectedly takes her arm, and begins to lead her along a winding, flagstone path. She has never seen such large pieces of the stone, and they glisten as if polished.
The path skirts a small stand of black spruce before it continues to the river. He stops her at the mouth of a gravel walkway leading through the trees.
“Let’s pop in here.”
“Your little acre of the Black Forest?”
“Hardly an acre.”
“Precision.” Breeze laughs. “Whatever would my father think of you?”
“Does any father think well of any man when his daughter is concerned?”
“Probably not.”
“No,” agrees Mr. S. “So not to worry.”
“He would think even less of someone leading his daughter down the garden path,” observes Breeze.
“That would be before he saw what I am about to show you.”
Mr. S. holds her arm tightly, and guides her onto the gravel walk. It leads directly to the base of a tree, then makes an abrupt curve between the largest of the spruce.
One of the boughs is so low Breeze ducks her head. She has the sensation of being in the midst of a forest, for the heavy branches obscure the surroundings.
“If I may be permitted a moment of drama.”
Mr. S. covers her eyes and speaks softly.
“Will you turn to your right, and take a few steps?”
Even though he had asked, Breeze is startled as he gently eases her forward, and she feels a slight urge to resist him. Her steps are more cautious than the gravel walkway demands, and the press of his body is noticeable. She counts her footsteps under her breath. She is surprised when they stop at half a dozen, and he quickly removes his hand.
“She’s beautiful.” Breeze stares, open-mouthed.
“Yes.” Mr. S. is pleased. “I think so, too.”
“An angel in the woods.”
“The angel of peace.” Mr. S. walks her around the statue. “Not at all bad for a knockoff.” He pauses behind the wings.
“A knockoff?”
“A reproduction.” He puts his foot on the pedestal, and leans forward. “I don’t really know how old it is. Certainly last century – possibly before.” He points to the blue folds. “I’ve had the paint cleaned and touched up. Is it too garish?”
“It … it stands out.” Breeze hunts for a word. “Let’s call it vibrant.”
DE

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