It’s a Czech holiday today, marking the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, when the Communists fell in the face of massive, peaceful protests. The students have a free day today, the second since I arrived here. The first was the Birth of Baha’u’llah celebration, marking the birthday of the Baha’i prophet whose name means the Glory of God.

What I thought was a chicken coop is actually home to Cleopatra, the little black goat. I fed her for the first time today, apple cores I had saved from the last couple days. She ate the first one happily but ignored the second, so I don’t know if she likes them or not.

It’s a damp day, not raining exactly… the leaves of all the clovers in the lawn are covered with water droplets, giving them a silver sheen. There are a number of what I think are fresh mole hills in the grass, but I have yet to see a mole, and I am also on the lookout for hedgehogs!

Today I took a short walk up to the stone bridge and straight on along a narrow path through the woods at the edge of the ravine where the rail way tracks lay, then veered off to a stand of evergreens. There is remarkably little underbrush in Czech woodlands, it seems.  And  then I went to inspect the little yellow house that I thought might be a toilet or  shed for tools.

It is actually a shrine, decorated with an ornate wooden cross, a picture of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus and dried flowers and candles. There is also a broom in the corner to sweep the very small floor. I have a hazy memory of such shrines from the Slovak countryside, but I have forgotten whether they are for travellers or whether they belong to a certain family and what they are called.

November 18

I took a long walk today, down the hill to the store and back and then to and from the shrine. I think my orthotics are kicking in, eliminating the leg pain I’ve been experiencing I hope it’s not a fluke- it felt so good to keep going! I am in a hopeful mood today…I had a nice bunch of younger students this afternoon and am feeling good about the arts festival next week. I also skipped coffee and slept all morning… I must have needed it, as I think my system is still not quite adjusted to the time difference here. Luckily there are many points in the day when I have time to flake out and rest, in the privacy of my room.

November 21

Took a walk down the hill again, and ventured a little farther below the Spar store toward a bridge  on the road that leads to the village. It is under repair so I can’t walk that way. I saw the first Christmas decorations I’ve seen so far- some  six-pointed stars that are made from something resembling evergreen.  It is sunny and warmish today but snow is in the forecast for this coming week, so I suppose winter is truly on its way!