Small pleasures 

Let me catalogue them

A drink on a hot day

Lemoniada z bzu it was called. In groping English the man in the white shirt behind the counter described it to me. “It is  …  between sweet and bitter … there is flower in it …  an essence.” I watched as he made it – clear liquid from three containers and a slice of orange in the base of the tall glass.  I relished its coolness and it’s not-sweetness, thinking of cucumber lemonade that was balm to my throat on a hot day in Prague. Later, when I ran “lemoniada z bzu” through my translator, I found that I had been drinking lilac lemonade.

Facing the wrong way

I don’t usually like facing the wrong way when I’m travelling in a bus, but that’s where I end up on the 222 taking me back to ul Puławska after a busy morning sightseeing. I’m right up the back, and the only thing in front of me is a long narrow window, framing the receding streetscape as a panorama. It is a wonderful way to see a familiar city and now I seek out that seat.

Snow in late spring 

The temperature is climbing towards 30° and the air is full of what looks like floating snowflakes. They ride on the breeze and drift in through our windows, coming to rest on the windowsill and along the skirting boards. In the park they grout the paving stones and settle in heavy drifts in the gutters. One afternoon after preschool dziadek and Maja and Jaś collect fingerfuls and send them back into the air with their breath, sometimes as high as the school building. Of course it’s not really snow: it’s the prolific fluff from the white poplar.

Surprised by a storm

It’s a very hot day. We sit in the park under dense shade, eating carrot sticks and sultanas and sunflower seeds. We are fantasising about bringing a rug and lying down on the grass looking up at the trees and the birds and the clouds. Then there’s an ominous rumble. We’re startled. Neither the weather forecast nor the sky predicted rain. Nevertheless it falls,  a sun shower at first, the slanting rain glinting through the trees. A wind erupts and the air is a swirl of falling leaves, and suddenly it’s a downpour.  We huddle close to each other and the trunk of the tree. But soon we’re drenched, no longer hot. J grabs the bikes and I two small hands and we scurry towards home. The paths are running rivers and in the gutters that workmen have been repaving there are tiny waterfalls coloured white with cement. The downpour stops as suddenly as it started and heat returns. There are big brown puddles at the edge of the park, billabongs for bunyips, we decide, as we splash through them.  At home we discard sopping wet clothes and sodden shoes.

At the checkout

 There is a chronic shortage of small coins in Poland and the person at the checkout is never satisfied with a note. They always waits for you to produce a handful of drobna. On a busy Friday afternoon a man reverses this scenario. He hands over fistfuls of small coins. The woman serving him begins counting, laying out the tiny circles on the counter. She counts, and counts and counts, as the people in the queue begin murmuring. They are amused rather than aggravated, astonished that someone would interrupt the admittedly slow pace of transactions with this mini-drama. The woman behind me begins to chat to me in animated Polish: I counter-comment in English. Still the count goes on. At last the coins are safely stashed in the till. I expect the drobna-hunger is satisfied, but no. When it’s my turn to pay, there is still the interrogative tilt of the head which means “Hand over your small change, or suffer my displeasure.”


Imagine us on a green and yellow striped rug in the park. We are under a shady tree, with mushrooms growing around its base. The twins require a “lumpy bit” under the rug and a tree root serves this purpose. They are having a linguistic conversation with dziadek, amused by the similarity between the word for cushion (kanapa) and the word for sandwich (kanapka). Then they move on to sałata (lettuce) and sałatka (salad) and set up a chant, which we all join in counterpoint, four voices taking turns. This is the way to learn a language.

Travellers on a Warsaw tram

I hear a strange noise behind me as I make for the tram. When I look round I see a man lugging four stackable tubular green chairs. A postman gets on with his rectangular trolley-on-wheels and travels three stops. As he gets off to begin deliveries, two men hop on carrying a pair of solid folding tables about 5′ long. And most unusual of all, a young man strikes up a conversation in English, telling me that his son Tadeusz is called after Kosciuszko, after whom the highest mountain in Australia is also named. Oh, and then I see a familiar shape further down the tram: J has just joined it after a walk along the river. A rich haul for a morning’s journey.n

About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
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14 Responses to Small pleasures 

  1. restlessjo says:

    I’m anti-backwards riding too, but the back seat looks good. Chuckled at the drobna and kanapka. Yes- excellent way to learn a language. You have fine teachers. 🙂 I have several pink snow photos I never did get to post. Maybe on Saturday, before it’s too late.
    Wishing you a wonderful time in Gdansk. I hope the travel and connections are straightforward this trip. Many hugs to take with you 🙂


  2. Sue says:

    I join you in my dislike of backwards riding – but love your images from that backward facing seat! And I enjoyed reading of your small pleasures!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rosemary Barnard says:

    I remember that white fluff floating about when I first arrived in northern Italy. I am sure that was what caused my very uncomfortable bout of hayfever. And of course I was not carrying any antihistamine medication, that is, not until our persuasive Italian tour leader managed to get me some from a pharmacy without a prescription. Funny, isn’t it, how the rules can be so different. I think you already alluded to that, Meg, in your post about the day-care facility and its toleration of photography. The insistence of small change reminds me of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia. Perhaps in Poland it is a carry-over from the days when people had very little money and so did not carry much with them. I always found it a bit of a worry to have enough small change on me for fares.


  4. Becky B says:

    We discovered a Portuguese back seat too by accident and like you wondered why on earth we’d never done it before because as you say the view is fabulous, then the next day on the bus we realised why as it was full of very noisy teenagers!! View wasn’t quite the same!


  5. Heyjude says:

    Count me out on facing backwards, I get travel sick facing forwards! But your tiny pleasures bring me countless joys. None more so than being caught out in the storm, I never knew it got so hot in Warsaw (Poland).


  6. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Those first photos look like paintings, an editing effect? I was going to ask if you’d seen and knew poplars, because I was looking at the fluff the other day and you sprang to mind. Isn’t it lovely? I can imagine making a bed of them in a wood.


    • The effect is more, I think, from a kind of invisible screen on the glass. The only editing I remember doing was cropping and then a darkening and maybe a sharpening in Snapseed. I fiddle so much I can never remember what I did, and the photo’s trashed so I probably can’t go back and check. I’m glad poplar fluff made you think of me. There were drifts of it nearly making a bed without help. Thank goodness I’m not allergic: that would compromise its delight considerably.


  7. findingnyc says:

    What a collection of wonderful little moments, like small jewels. I really liked the photos taken from the back of the bus, and it makes me wish our buses had such a window.

    Liked by 1 person

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