Saturday, 6 June 2015

The day, seized.

'Carpe diem!,' they say - so I did. I woke up at twenty past three in the morning to find it was already getting light outside. "Why not," I asked myself, "why not set out for a long walk right now. So I got dressed and left the house at ten to four. What a marvellous aroma met my nostrils! At this time of day, as plantlife readjusts from the nocturnal to the daytime photosynthesis cycle, there's a unique, refreshing and entirely wonderful smell in the air that disappears with the sunrise. And of course there's hardly any traffic. It occurs to me that in midsummer, with 17-hour long days at this latitude, there's so much more oxygen in the air than in midwinter, where there's a little over seven hours of daylight for plants to photosynthesise. More oxygen, we feel brighter and more energetic. So it's not just the sun...

Follow my footsteps as I head south towards the sun, in search of the Sublime Aesthetic.

Below: it's 03:54, on ul. Karczunkowska, passing Trombity bus stop.

Below: at 04:14, I leave Warsaw. The old, pre-1999 sign is still there, announcing that outside Warsaw's city limits is a unit of territorial self-government called 'Warsaw Voivodship'.

Below: it's 04.27, ten minutes after sunrise, and the first rays are catching the windows of the housing estate across the tracks from Nowa Iwiczna, as seen from Zamienie.

Below: it's 04:35, and I'm looking across the fields to Nowa Wola. It looks like some kind of petrochemical installation at first glance, but this is the neo-modernist housing estate, which I find aesthetically pleasing. Fit for purpose and to me, far nicer than faux dworki.

Other than two delivery vans that pass me, there's no other sign of human life - until 04:39, when I see this farmer tending his crops, below.

Below: at the crossroads at 04:45. "But where's this road leading me? Where? You're thinking 'Where does this road lead? Where? Have I gone too far?' My God!*" Look at the adverts, the wires in the sky. If this didn't put me in mind of 1950s USA, I'd be minded to call this scene ugly.|

Below: it's 05:23. Nice houses, Jazgarzewszczyzna, photo taken from Bobrowiec. This is now on the other side of the main road from Piaseczno to Magdalenka. Rich people live out here, and their lifestyle is not to be envied (assuming they work in central Warsaw). This is over 8km (5 miles) further out of town than Jeziorki; there's no railway station within walking distance, both car and bus have to wait ages at the lights to cross the main road and then again at the level crossing at Jeziorki. No exurb for busy men.

Below: it's 05:55 and I'm approaching Piaseczno from Bobrowiec, having passed Kamionka. I cross the narrow-gauge railway, now nothing more than a tourist attraction, once the mainstay of public transport south of Warsaw. Again, I'm minded of  1950s USA.

I pass Piaseczno, in great need of a coffee, I pop into the Wadex petrol station on the main road. Me: "Do you do coffee?" Petrol station assistant: "I can sell you a packet of ground coffee..."

At once I identify an issue. BP and Shell make grosze per litre on petrol sales. They make their real money on selling snacks, roadmaps, car accessories etc. Pan Heniek trying to compete with the big guys will have an impressive range of alcoholic beverages, but there's nothing for the tired truck driver other than a tin of energy drink. This is another defining urban/rural divide: in the city, every other newspaper kiosk will have an espresso machine; drinking hot coffee early in the morning while seated, reading your paper or tablet is the very essence of civilised urban morning  life. Not achievable (yet) in rural Poland. A tin of Red Bull or some cheaper napój energetyczny and that's it. Sorry - not the same. Gimme gimme hot coffee!

Below: it's 06:12 and I'm in Jazgarzew, St Roch's parish church (from where the Corpus Christi procession I mentioned in my last post came from). Shops  are open.

Beyond Jazgarzew there's Łbiska, and the rural/urban becomes purely rural. I pop into a grocery story, buy a wholemeal roll and 150g of fineft ham and structure myself a sandwich. Then I turn off the main road to follow a track southwestward towards the railway line. I'm glad to be away from the roads now that rural Poland's woken up. Lots of cars, lots of people at the local stores buying bread and szynka for their breakfasts. It's 07:06 and the long grass is still wet. Ahead of me - the forest.

I enter the forest - the Las Chojnowski which stretches in an arc from Prażmów to Konstancin. In the forest, silence.

On the other side is Ustanów; then Ustanówek and its railway station. I carry on southward and cross the Zielona ('Green') river (below) and am minded of Pink Floyd's Grantchester Meadows. It is 09:21.

Back in the forest heading to my destination - Czachówek. Below: a southbound train headed for Radom. The sunlight dapples the forest floor, the smell of the vegetation is a marvel.

Below: ascending the stairs to Czachówek Górny station. It's 10:01, my train's at 10:23. Time for a rest, eat the rest of my sandwich and sunbathe, while reading today's paper.

Below: My train arrives on time at Jeziorki, I'm not unduly tired, so I take the longer way home via ul. Nawłocka. It's 11:03 and I'm back where I started from, seven hours and 13 minutes earlier.

Below: a map of my route - for the sake of convenience I've rotated it through 90 degrees so that north is to the left. Click to enlarge.

Total distance walked 22.3km (plus another 1.4km from station back home - total 23.7km/14.7 miles/ 29,650 paces). Not bad, and though the sun has been wonderful and hot, I did my walking before the rays became too intense.

The day today is 15 minutes shorter than it is a the summer solstice, which falls on 20 June this year.

* See the Fast Show's Garden Party sketch.

This time three years ago:
Classic British cars for British week

This time four years ago:
Cara al Sol - a short story

This time five years ago:
Pumping out the floodwater

This time six years ago:
To Góra Kalwaria and beyond

This time seven years ago:
Developments in Warsaw's exurbs


Bob said...

Great post Michal! You really captured the essence of the morning and your walk. I believe the next time we meet you will have to drill me on the pronunciation of: Jazgarzewszczyzna


Paddy said...

A sizeable distance indeed! Kto rano wstaje..

student SGH said...