The Czech sky is gray today, churning. The winter that has been seemingly in retreat for a week now claws its way back from the moist crevices of afternoon shadows. A chill in the wind brings a light dusting of snow. These small white grains fatten up over the course of minutes until your field of vision is consumed with white streaks. Sakura flowers that have appeared only the past weekend are now surrounded by falling crystals.
The grains resemble styrofoam now, moving along with the wind in the wake of some great unboxing, little eddies form in them as the air. Moving fast and in huffing gusts, you can see how the wind flows around the trees and lanes of houses. The burnt ochre of roof tiles stands out against the pale churning sky. The afternoon has turned the streets … not quite foggy but desaturated. The gray of the sky seems to reflect in the gray of the concrete walkways and the asphalt of the motionless village roads.
Yellow banners of narcissus flowers flash along the footpaths. Occasional tufts yellow spark up among the trees, little flowers cling in bunches to the branches of a nameless to me bush. Thin, reaching branches extend from the ground. These spindly hands with dozens of bony fingers extent up to the height of a grown man, and further yet. The flowers dot them from top to bottom, like a coral formation, or a colony of mold.
The wind quiets down. Grains of snow thin out and then disappear. A ray or two of the sun reaches down, caressing the very top of an old pine tree. Then as suddenly as it appeared, it retracts back and upwards. Patches of the blue, bottomless sky peak. A flow of warmth and light diffuses along the ground, and then up, backlighting the yellow petals. Color returns to the grass diving sidewalk from the road. Sakura flowers thoughtfully nod in time with the wind.
This week, I am waiting for news, impatiently. Above me, I see a seagull. The news doesn’t come. I look away and then back up. There it is. With its kinked wings holding against the wind, the seagull remains in place. It also remains a seagull. There is no business a seagull should have hovering above a Moravian village, 650 kilometers away from the closest beach (driving through Austria and Slovenia).
The seagull continues to hover overhead, slowly progressing south until it becomes obscured by a small tree next to me. I step off to the sidewalk as a man wearing dirty overalls passes me. I squeeze out a “Dobry den” in response to his. Glancing at his face I briefly contemplate the damage a lifetime of hard drinking can cause to the skin. When I look up again, the seagull is gone. I search the vast open gray sky for a sign of movement, but all is still. The churn of the clouds has subsided, and glistening silver linings are on full display, illuminated by the mid-spring sun. The seagull is gone. Perhaps it was never there in the first place.
I mumble something to myself about the “surreal aura of liminal spaces” as I head home.