At the end of June, on one of those early outrageously hot days, with the sun blazing down and the pavement steaming the heat back up, I met a distant relative at the train station. He is obsessed with the genealogy of one branch of my family and, like most genealogists, his obsession borders on the fanatic.
It was so hot I could barely think. He wanted to take me somewhere where we could sit and talk. We found the "Secession" Restaurant at the Brno main station. Inside there was no sun, but the semi-shade was offset by hot light
bulbs that seemed to melt tones of white and banana-cream-pie-yellow from
ornate but funky glass chandeliers. Maybe, he told me, you would like a Viennese coffee? (Yes, a hot drink was just what I needed.)
Recalling my Mom's visit in January, he said, "Never live in the North." Like many Czech men of a certain age, he preferred to keep his shirt open in certain summer situations, exposing a bit of gut and chest hair. Being at a restaurant table, he deemed it an appropriate situation, though it seemed a bit too public for me. I represented the uptight and kept my shirt resolutely buttoned though untucked. The North didn't seem so bad to me, given the situation.
"Why? What's wrong with the Norht?"
"It would be horrible to live in a cold climate all the time. Why did they come when it was so cold? The summer is best. You can really live in a nice warm place like this. And the women!" Groan. The coffees arrived in clear glasses and I watched the cream melt, slowly but helplessly, into the coffee. Later, there was a small reminder of the cream: a few faint white streaks winding along the sides of the cup like tracks at the edge of a tar pit. The remains of something consumed by the heat.
After a July of humid and still days of too-hotness, today was refreshingly cool and cloudy. I am no less puzzled about what makes so many people want to live in central Europe, but that doesn't make me forget the hot realities of summer here. I'm sure that there's more to look forward to.
Tags: Brno, summer, heat