Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Few Droplets

     If it has been raining so much and continues to do so, I will add a few droplets to it. Besides, that might make it stop; if it only lasts five minutes I’ll set my writing down and go for a walk.


     I noticed years ago that during all the larger storms they always announce a disturbance or depression over Iceland. Beautiful weather has something to do with the Canary Islands, from where “regions of high pressure” trundle along as a rule, but rain and sleet and cold always come from Iceland; it is clearly the specialty there. No one ever announces a depression over Kardašova Řečice in Southern Bohemia or a region of low pressure over the district offices in Trutnov; it just goes to show you that even after the handover of power we remain dependent on foreigners, at least so far as the weather is concerned. As for Iceland, it must be a strange place, for (according to Otto’s Encyclopedia1) it is a land with “a coarse, cold, and damp climate,” but also a “comparatively mild” one; they suffer from tapeworms and asthma and in the past they banned love poetry by law2 which seems sensible enough; their main industries are sheep, fish, volcanic eruptions and rain.
     Of course it just started raining again.


     This year the harvest will be bad on account of the terrible rain; otherwise it would be bad on account of the prolonged drought. But prolonged drought is better for the farmers, because then we suffer from “catastrophic climactic threats” and especially “hail the size of pigeons’ eggs,” (the size of pigeons’ eggs only being referenced in this context) whose result is the forbearance of certain taxes and “speedy relief from the responsible agencies.” We didn’t hear anything this year about the size of pigeons’ eggs on account of all the bad weather; repeat it a hundred times and you will feel the sweltering heat, the piercing sun, the oppressive humidity of an incoming storm. The farmer carefully looks up at the sky, the chickens already having hidden themselves, and sees the booming heavens, the downpour beginning to splash and spray, and suddenly “hail the size of pigeons’ eggs” will ring down. But that has simply failed to happen this year.
     Besides, the sun just came out once more. I’m going outside for a bit.


     The summer solstice is a time when children from country schools take excursions to Prague. I met at least a dozen such excursions today at the very minimum. The children are all holding hands and not even looking to the right or to the left, as they have a horrible fear of getting lost; getting them across the street, for instance, is a very tricky maneuver indeed. These little country moppets are quite agitated, and the children do not let go of each others’ hands even at night (for the world is an evil place), and I haven’t even mentioned the country trousers yet; neither long or short, but the famous “trousers you’ll grow out of,” and the little girls pattering around like mice with supernaturally large umbrellas, and the teacher bringing up the rear with an umbrella and his overcoat over his arm, counting his charges at every corner. It is a wonder one female teacher did not burst into tears when she sat her group down in pairs by the National Theater and suddenly realized she had three girls too many. How it happened and what she did with them I have no idea. But nothing is more touching than when it is raining quite steadily and the bridge looks like it has been swept clean of people, and one of those children's crusades is straggling along it with soaked hair and dripping umbrellas and numb hands, just to see “the great city, whose fame…”
     God, it’s started raining again!


     "And the Lord sent rain down onto the earth. It rained unceasingly for six moths. The waters rose and inundated the earth forty cubits above the highest summits." That is the description of the flood in a variation of the Bible from Turkestan. The prophet Noah also built an ark in this version; but when all the animals were going on board in pairs, the devil caught the ass by the tail and held him. The ass stomped and brayed and would not go on. "Come on, come on, you devil," the prophet shouted at him. At that the devil dropped the ass' tail and dashed for the ark. "Wait," said the prophet, "who called you?" "You did," the devil replied. "You just said 'come on, come on, you devil,' and that is me, after all!" So Noah had to let the devil on the ark, and that's how the devil escaped the flood. Now you know why the flood--in light of the devilishness of the world--was completely unnecessary.

     There is a relevant detail to this story which the Bible has left out: that it really smelled in the ark, on account of all the filth from the animals. That angle on things surprised me and utterly convinced me. Noah even prayed to God about it. But the Allah of Turkestan, instead of creating the broom or the shovel, created the dung-beetle instead, which removed all of the filth in question. Since then God has left it among us, to get rid of the mud and all kinds of unclean things.

     It rains no more. I'm going out.



1 [Otto's Encyclopedia was the largest Czech-language encylopedia. Of course Čapek had access to a copy; I'm sure it was his Google/Wikipedia.]
2 According to this site, the Gray Goose Laws forbade, among other types, "poems praising a woman." In an era more conducive to blood feuds and blood money, I suppose this made sense. However, it also says such laws were frequently ignored, which also makes sense.]

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