The first real snowfall of the season occurred this week in Brno, Czech Republic. Granted, the snowfall was just a dusting of maybe four inches. As it fell, the view of Špilberk Castle disappeared from my apartment’s picture glass window. Snow covered the branches of the trees and I reminisced about this time of year when winter snowfall would come to Somerset, my hometown in Western Pennsylvania in the United States
I have always thought of January differently than other months. It is a bleak time of year. Yes, the daylight hours are increasing but January also has penetrating cold and blustery winds. It is time when one’s exhaled breath drifts away in a cloud of steam. It follows the celebrations of Christmas and New Years and it seems to me to be a time for resting and recovery from them. By a burning fireplace seems to be the place of comfort.
A few years ago I traveled to the Czech Republic city of Brno. Within a few blocks of my apartment the story of the past 900 years of this part of the world is preserved… not only in stone but also in legends and the cultural traditions of the people there.
Brno is located north of Vienna, Austria. It is a small city of about 500,000 people and is accessible by trains and busses that run between Vienna and Prague. Many tourists just see Brno as a waypoint between these more famous places. Little did I know when I initially arrived that I would find myself staying in Brno’s old town for seven months including a frigid, blustery winter. Living in Brno provided me with a different perspective than a tourist may get.
This blog story is based on a small geographic portion of the city… my neighborhood… and the legends, history and traditions that are preserved there.