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October 15, 2006


        Some ideas seem better in the dark than they do by the light of day. Last week at a party at Lenka's rented garden plot where Randy lived part time in a converted circus wagon, he took me to the lot next door and showed me by flashlight an abandoned cedar cabin about the size of a toolshed. It was certainly cute and it seemed a good idea at the time to come back, dismantle it, and bring it out to Jakub where there'd be room for it in the back backyard. The row of gardens had been recently sold to a developer and whatever was left behind by former tenants was probably going to be trashed. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.
        But by the light of day, with a sackful of tools at the ready, new ideas started dawning. Ideas like: This is someone else's property. And: If these gardens are abandoned, why is that old man next next door in there pruning his trees? Or: If the police come, what could we possibly say--"The place looked kinda sorta abandoned, officer, so we climbed through a hole in the fence and decided to appropriate this here building..."? Honza said the idea was just plain crazy. Steven didn't say much, but in his eyes I could read the subtle question, "What the fuck were you thinking?" Dan, a reluctant city councilman, wasn't too keen on the caper, although an arrest and minor scandal right then might have been just the thing to ease him out of local politics, in which he's involved out of a sense of civic duty moreso than personal ambition. No, in the dark it had seemed fair game and the logic of night said we'd be doing someone a favor. But in broad daylight with multiple passers by, adjacent well-maintained gardens, and intact fences and locks, for some reason it suddenly seemed that what we were proposing might be mistaken for stealing.
        So we did the only logical thing and decided to have a picnic instead. We climbed over the fence into Lenka's garden (where we had permission to be but no key to get past the padlocked gate). Steven cut his hand climbing over. The rest of us took turns using Honza's gloves. Dan singlehandedly brought the party: beer, a pot of beans, and a bottle of homemade slivovitz brought back from a trip to Croatia. We borrowed a box of matches from the aforementioned neighbor gardener and even though the wood was wet we got a fire going with just one match and a sheaf of crumpled pages torn from a telephone book.
        It was overcast, shadowless, the flat light of limbo, a no-time kind of day. The overgrown garden felt like deep woods even though we were still within city limits. It was a nice way to close the chapter of our Czech visit--among friends in a magical place.

misty morning en route to cirkvice train platform