Life in a Czech Village
Or…..that which I had not done or seen before.
We live in a small Czech village (summer population 1200, winter population 400) about 19km south of central Prague. I had previously come from an English town population in excess of 100,000 so, you could say there were some marked differences in culture.
Before I went to work in China I was told to set my watch forward 8 hours and then back 30 years. This advice is still valid for my current life in a Czech village only with the watch forward 1 hour. I could have named the page “that which I had never seen or done before I lived here” but, for your amusement and astonishment, there follows a list of things which pleasantly came as a surprise.
- Never saw wild deer running across a field (from my bedroom window).
- Never bought eggs in a paper bag.
- Never made my own jam.
- Never saw anybody cutting grass with a scythe.
- Never held a baby goat in my arms.
- Never lived in a place where they make announcements on a lamp post mounted loudspeaker system.
- Never picked wild mushrooms.
- Never made Christmas sweets.
- Never whipped anybody (Easter tradition).
- Never swam in a lake.
- Never saw a bird build a nest, lay eggs, raise it’s young and watch them all safely fly away.
- Never lived in a house where you get water drawn from a well or refuse taken from a septic tank.
- Never saw a place where all the local children are called together for one day a year to clear litter from the village.
- Never watched Squirrels taking nuts from a walnut tree.
- Never went ice-skating on a pond.
- Never used a chainsaw.
- Never lived in a road with no name.
- Never saw anybody carrying a steaming pail of milk which had just been drawn from the cow.
- Never kept chickens.
- Never killed, plucked and gutted a chicken.
- Never played a game of skittles.
Another remarkable thing about living in a Czech Village is the amount of waste. Quite simply there isn’t any. The whole village recycles almost everything with glass bottles and jars going to the glass bottle bank. Likewise plastic bottles, bags etc all go to the plastic bottle bank. Beer bottles have a deposit and are always delivered back to the shop or pub. Large wood is used in constructing some out-building or other. Any other wood, board, paper etc is burned in one of the many wood burners or furnaces in the houses. Many people let their grass is grow long in the summer and then cut and dry it for hay to be used in feeding the many types of animals in the village. Chickens, pigs, cows, rabbits, cats and dogs generally consume anything left on the dinner table and if they don’t want it, it goes on the compost heap. Scrap metal is collected once a month from the front of the house. It’s an efficient system.
Lastly, there is the question of responsibility. Coming to an established Czech village, it’s not hard to see how everybody gets along and how many of the businesses are intertwined i.e. the car repair garage and the car electrics workshop work together, the shop sells beer until 1630 then closes as the pub now opens. There is little conflict. The village has a fire engine manned by a volunteer force of about 6 or 7 men. In the winter, people that live on the hills are the ones who keep the hills gritted. The local farm supplies a tractor to clear the road of snow. So we must find our own way of providing a service to the village.