Zdena, my friend, my neighbor…by Jan Lackey
The Czech Republic does have a curtain charm about it. Most of the country is hilly divided by some areas of flat plains. In the north the hills build into mountains. The third highest peaks in all of Europe third only to the Alps and the Piedmont. The high lands are covered with forest. The valleys are planted with crops. In the summer the fields are full of rape, sunflowers and poppies. Most of the poppy seeds you buy in the grocery stores are produced in the Czech Republic. Rape is a seed that is use for oil. The plants produce a small yellow flower. In June and July, the fields are blanketed in yellow. Unlike our farms in the USA, Czech’s co-op their land. A custom left over from medieval times. The fields are massive, as far as you can see to the horizon is only one crop. They cultivate the fields with enormous machinery, tractors, which take up two lanes of the road. You literally have to yield the right away to these monsters and get off the road when they move the machinery from one field to another. The farmers live in small villages instead of in the middle of their fields. A village could have twenty to hundred houses. All cluster close together. Everyone knows the business of his neighbor. They work and live together. The villages look like little islands in a sea of crops.