Human Flower Project
Friday, May 22, 2009
In the Month of Květen
In the Czech Republic, May is the month of flowers—literally. Let a thousand ironies bloom.
Bergenia cordifolia blooms in the Jewish cemetery outside Třebíč, Czech Republic, May 2009
Photo: Human Flower Project
Vacations come in pairs: there’s the fantasy that gets you out the door, then the welter of realities—strange bedcovers, clouds, vegetables and diphthongs—where you land.
Expectation and outcome don’t need to match. If they did, then fantasy alone would do (e.g. the vacation-implants of “Total Recall”). But fantasy is required. Without it, you’re on a work trip or we’d all stay home, bitching and pecking our blackberries.
Our trip to the Czech Republic began with a new friend, journalist Tomáš Němeček. Since we met in Austin three years ago and he presented us with fantasy-spawning Bohemia, Jan Reich’s grand, moody book of photographs, Tomáš has gone on to shower us gently with postcards: he sends flower stamps, arch observations from his own holidays, and nuggets of surrealism: “According to ancient Czech tradition,” he wrote one Christmastime, “gifts are brought by the invisible baby Jesus. (For supermarket managers, it’s hard to use in marketing).”
Primed by all this, our vacation was clinched with one Czech word: Květen. It means “flower.” It also means the month of May. The trip scheduled itself.
While away, we took a break from writing or editing for HFP though not from documenting floral customs. There are many in this part of the world, especially during Květen. Over the weeks to come, we’ll be scattering stories from our visit but there’s too much to hold onto. So, several handfuls of petals now…