Spring has come to Croatia while we’ve been here, whiling away the hours in Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Trees are filling out, and the sun warms the air on the patio every morning despite the brisk chill, so that before long, we are ushered back into the shade of the kitchen. I absolutely love it. After hiding from the sun for so long, unconsciously burdened by the extreme humidity of Southeast Asia, it is a pure pleasure to be outside in this amazingly dry, sunny weather. It draws me out at all hours of the day, with a morning cup of tea or in the afternoon or to watch a bit of the sunset. And it has changed our appetite.
From the very first morning in Zagreb, Steve and I both found ourselves ravenous. Not content with a breakfast of muesli and yogurt, we made ourselves tomato and cheese sandwiches, which barely kept us until lunch. It seemed like we were eating every two hours, and the trend kept up for a week or two. Even now, we’re puzzling out only a few answers, reasoning that our bodies are trying to keep warm in this spring weather and keep up with the miles that we walk and climb every day. But I think it may well be that the sun and reviving world around us has awakened our appetite and energy. This morning, like most mornings this past week, I woke up at 9 am (so late!) and had a bit of breakfast on the terrace while writing a few postcards. Occasionally, bees have visited our terrace and ventured into our kitchen, perhaps drawn by the rosehip and hibiscus flower tea and plum jam on bread. (Note to self: eat breakfast inside next time.) After I showered and dressed, I left Steve to his programming and took the backpack as well as a Neil Gaiman book down with me to the supermarket about half an hour away. I came back almost an hour and a half later, out of breath and burdened with many groceries after a slow climb back. Since we live at the top of the hill that is Dubrovnik, everywhere we go is down and every trip back is a climb up, much to my chagrin.
Side note: They tell us that Dubrovnik is most frequented by visitors in high summer, which I can conceive of, but with much difficulty. It already feels 75 to 80 degrees now during the day, and we work up a good sweat climbing around town, which is unavoidable since Dubrovnik is all stairs. The entire city is just built on a 35 degree incline, and is a total ADA-compliance nightmare. We watched some YouTube videos of Game of Thrones filming in August and September, and the hordes of people swarming what we know as leisurely empty courtyards and streets make us very, very glad indeed that we are here in the “off-season”!!
For lunch, we ate sandwiches that I had bought at the bakery outside the supermarket, with some peach Nestea (which for me is the one drink that reminds me of Europe), and finished it off with a slice of Emmentaler cheese and a dried fig (called smokva in Croatian) each. We had a spaghetti dish in the Old City last night, with garlic, prosciutto, parmesan, and sliced figs, which was absolutely divine, and it made me beyond happy to find them at the supermarket and enjoy them on our terrace. It’s perhaps impossible to overstate how happy I feel here, well-attuned to the weather and rising early in the day. It is a real pleasure to enjoy drawing watercolors out there, and I am slowly improving my depiction of the view from our terrace, which is of orange-red rooftops and many trees, and beyond, the calm blue sea and an ever-changing sky. Just below us, our neighbor to the south has a large, untamed backyard, populated by one brown dog and up to a dozen cats, black and white and calico and orange. They sometimes swipe at one another and yowl during the night, but mostly perch on the rooftop or stone walls which are covered in ivy, and snooze during the daytime. It is a most idyllic picture I have put to the watercolors already, with mixed success.
For the rest of the afternoon, we will probably take brief naps, do more on our respective work projects (me on my microeconomics course, Steve on his programming), take a walk around the Old City if we get a chance, and enjoy a lovely dinner by sunset. The only thing that can make this better is if we could share it with more of our friends — Steve and I severely miss the company we used to share. You know who you are, and we miss you very much.