The Mirage

   We were returning toward home from Teplice, after a tiring day of work. The temperature was very elevated, I remember passing a digital thermometer along the highway, which read 35C in the shade; but worst than the heat, the humidity made the day insupportable. Fortunately on the horizon small dark clouds had begun to gather promising an afternoon shower, which would hopefully refresh the air a little. As promised shortly after we drove from Teplice a valiant storm met us, strong winds and even hail pounded at our car. It lasted only a half of an hour, just enough time to break limbs of trees and scatter them across the highway. Such a tree limb interrupted our trip as we turned towards Zatec. At that moment it started to rain again. I didn’t reach out and touch the rain but in my opinion it was as hot as the air. We were hot and tired, trapped in the car with the windows rolled up behind this enormous limb across the road, the sky was becoming darker and darker, when suddenly we found ourselves, both Davide and I, with our noses pressed up against the window pane…. 

When I was a small child, not yet in school, during the evening before the festival of St. Peter and Paul, my grandmother had a tradition, which we children waited for with anticipation and curiosity. She would take a large empty jelly jar, fill it with water and drop the white of one egg into the water. Then she would tell us all to go to bed because in the morning you will see something happen inside the jar, which is marvelous. Obviously full of curiosity we would all follow our grandmother’s orders and go to bed. The morning after the marvel in the jar was on the window sill where the sun shone through the jar and revealed something incredible! The egg white floated half way up the jar emerged in the water, it had sent out long filaments toward the surface of the water. Attached to the filaments were colonies of  air bubbles that shined in the sunshine like little lanterns, reflecting the brilliance of the sun. The form of the egg white was that of a large sailing ship with its many masks illuminated for the festival by thousands of little lanterns, because it was the ship of St. Peter and Paul. At least it seemed that way to us children. The boat moved slowly in the water and we imagined the tiny sailors moving around on deck. That delight happened every year on the eve of St. Peter and Paul. Naturally we were all convinced that it was a miracle of the festival and never tried to duplicate it on any other day, for fear the miracle would vanish never to occur again.

 

 

Ahead of us toward Louny, the sky was gray, almost black. The clouds hung low across the horizon. Over the dark plain of the clouds rose a cupola of lighter clouds. Magically in the middle of this luminous cupola it seemed as though there were a group of tall towers and peaks of roofs that pointed towards the sky. The beams of the setting sun penetrated through the black clouds and covered these tall towers with light as the beams shot upward in the sky: it seemed like the ship of St. Peter and Paul, but real, floating on a sea of clouds across the ebbing sky!

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