Winter

Let me begin with a Mea Culpa. I’ve been so busy that I couldn’t get my head around posting any updates last week. That and the weather is thoroughly winter. Okay that’s not quite true. No one knows winter-bleak like an Ohioan. So the 2 C and partial shade really doesn’t cut it for excuses. But for Szeged, Hungary’s city of sunshine, a few days without the amber bounty seems, well, apocalyptic. Amen.

We’ve been spending early Sunday mornings driving to flea markets in the county. Each Sunday a different village hosts the flea market. There isn’t one today because it’s the rare 5th Sunday of a month.

I would say that 75% of the fun in going to these markets is the drive to get there. These are real, Hungarian villages. Tour busses cannot fit along these roads, and when the major highways were designed (for maximum efficiency in getting through Hungary quickly), no one thought to link these villages into the main pathways. But that seems to be alright by the people, and certainly alright by travelers looking for a little slice of authenticity. Especially here in Hungary’s Great Plain, the wide spaces and chilled wheat inspire adventure. I think I’ve probably always been a country girl at heart. Nothing pleases me more than seeing a chipped wooden sign advertising horse studding, or a little donkey in the distance rummaging for feed.

Most of the markets are set up the same. At the entrance you’ll find the animals: chickens, ducks, geese. Sometimes pigs and goats, but not always, and not this time of year. And all kinds of food for the animals. And puppies! Most of the puppies! are pure breads, though not always. Last week a man was giving away shepherd mixes because, as the man told us, the “mom” was a little bit of a farm tart. But he wanted them to go to a good home.

Most of the people that frequent these places are those living in the county. Farms, mostly, and some pickers. Good people with somewhat difficult lives. The market is the place to buy everything. From gulyas cauldrons, horse reins, spark plugs for an old Fiat to liquorish and bras (not usually at the same stand).

I love to go.  I love to watch the hundreds of people looking for treasures. I love to watch Gyorgyi haggle a few cents off of a little piece of pottery. The air is filled with the smell of mulled wine, fried kolbasz and langos. It really is the cure for any partially sunless winter blues.

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