Islands in the Midst of Fields… by Jan Lackey
The fields in south Bohemia are broken up by small cluster of trees or villages. Looking across the sea of crops these trees and villages appear to be little islands. The village, where we live, is like many others, an island in the midst of fields. It is located in the hills of Eastern Bohemia. The hillsides were planted in vineyards in the 1700’s. The town produced wine. In the 18th century our house was the local tavern. The house next door was a school. They offered French and Italian studies. Viniculture was the main subject, naturally. The vineyards failed in the early 1900’s. The vines are no longer here. Apple and plum orchards have taken their place on the hillsides today. The plums are used for making a liquor called Slivovice. It is a distilled alcohol, very strong around 55%, it warms the Czechs in winter and is used to celebrate every occasion. The countryside is beautiful in the spring when the trees are in bloom. The air is full of the fragrance of flowers. The Czechs are finally able to get out of their houses after the cold winter to care for their trees and work their land.