Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Poppy fields, Uhříněves

The Prague suburb of Uhříněves, once a mediaeval village, is today the site of Central Europe's largest and most sophisticated inland container terminal. Seen from the road, the massive cranes and gantries suggest the approach to a busy port - though the nearest watercourse, the tiny Botič, can only just about take a kayak.

Once past the acres of stacked metal boxes, however, an unexpected vista opens up that might be England: gently rolling hills and tree-lined valleys, and - sandwiched between a new housing development and a kite-flying area - this wheatfield full of wild poppies. Coming across it made me think of a verse from Philip Larkin's poem 'Here':

'And out beyond its mortgaged half-built edges | Fast-shadowed wheat-fields, running high as hedges,
Isolate villages, where removed lives | Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands | Like heat...
And past the poppies bluish neutral distance | Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach
Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence: | Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.'

Perhaps the poppies shouldn't surprise us: the Czechs, it turns out, are the biggest suppliers of poppy-seed  in the world, with a yield of 60,000 tonnes per year and a healthy export trade to India! And every year thousands of American families, the sons and daughters of Czech émigrés, continue to celebrate their old homeland with 'makové koláčky', pastries filled with crushed poppy-seed, dates, raisins and honey.


Roberto Machado Alves said...

Beatiful flowers and colors. Here, in Brazil, we have beatiful flowers and today I've posted one of them in my blog.


Jilly said...

Your posts are always so fascinating. Who would have known that the Czechs produce the most poppy seeds in the world.

And thanks for the Philip Larkin poem.

Love the photo - here we see poppies but no wheat!

Alex Went said...

I was surprised to find out about the poppies too - but it's true! The wheat is fantastic. I remember staying at Rumburk on the Czach/Polish border three years ago and seeing acres of golden wheatfields - just like the Staffordshire of my childhood before the oilseed rape came along. Sadly that fluorescent crop now taking over here too...

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