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Welcome and hairy yowzas to all! This is your Street Prophets Friday open thread.

Last week I walloped you with pictures of castle ruins. This week I thought I'd post some pictures of monsters that I saw on that same trip and share a little Czech monster story.

Join me below the orange hairball for a fable and a few photos won't you?  

While on a stroll, through a village neighboring the one we were staying in at a friend's cottage, I encountered a panel displaying information about the area. Half of the panel was dedicated to the story of how the local villagers gained the nickname of "hastermen". A "hasterman", or "vodník", is a (usually) malicious water spirit that is popularly featured in many Czech fairy tales. They live at the bottoms of rivers and ponds and drown unwary people; collecting their souls in lidded jars.

[Note on the translation: I'm translating this directly from the info panel and I'll avoid the awkward construction of calling the people from this village, the name of which translates as "Raspberry", "the villagers from Raspberry"-- instead, I'll simply call them "Raspberries", which is closer to the Czech construction and just funnier. I'll also leave some of the sentence structure closer to the original because this isn't a story from Keokuk, Iowa-- it should sound slightly foreign.]

The Hastermen of Raspberry

Do you perhaps know how the Raspberries came to be called hastermen? There once wandered along the stream from the forest into Raspberry, a vodník. A tiny, little man with horse legs, all in green. Before the Raspberries could do anything, that strange figure reached the fish pond and jumped into the water. The farmers and the poor bemoaned the awful misfortune that had befallen them. They feared that the vodník would drown children and flood fields and pastures, thereby ruining their harvest. A few brave men resolved that they wouldn't wait for the worst to happen; that they themselves would make certain that the vodník wouldn't stick around for long. They came up with a plan. They'd pull up the floodgate, drain the pond, and once the water was gone, catch the vodník like a defenseless fish and dry him in the sun. There came to watch this vodník hunt, people from the whole region. From a respectful distance they surrounded the pond and held their breath as they watched the water slowly drain away under the raised floodgate and, with a droning, vanish into the stream. The crowds on the banks watched the diminishing water in anxious silence. Just here and there one of the audience would cry out in fear when the dropping surface was broken by the movement of a frightened fish. The water of the pond disappeared, but of the vodník there was neither sight nor sound. And he didn't appear even when the pond was quite empty. On the bottom awkwardly flopped in the mud only some fish and in the net set up in the stream under the dam were caught only shaggy clumps of limp water plants. "So, where do you have him, you hastermen?" rose a spiteful comment from the crowd and after it exploded a burst of condescending laughter. The Raspberries had a coat of shame and for a long time no one called them anything other than - hastermen.

It just so happened that our visit to this lovely area of The Czech Republic corresponded with start of Lent and as we were walking out of a restaurant after a long hike along the Berounka river I was suddenly met with a Masopust (maso = meat, pust = fast) parade. A crowd of costumed villagers (not Raspberries) walking through their village, going from house to house, singing songs and receiving gifts.



I like the kids pulling the wagon for all the gifts they were receiving. Many of the gifts often come in shot glasses though.

We followed along behind the crowd with a few old stragglers. That old woman with the cane in the photo above has a sign taped to her back with a pictures of a goat's head and a milk pail and "Best milker in the county" written (in Czech of course). They all seemed to be having a marvelous time. As the crowd gathered in front of each house she was obviously one of the main attractions.

It may not have been Mardi Gras in New Orleans but I was enchanted by the whole thing. Somehow, in all my years of living over here, I'd never seen a parade for Masopust. I felt quite privileged to have witnessed it.

Well, here's wishing you all have a delightful weekend whether or not you're observing Lent. Speaking of fasting, I haven't had my dinner yet. Stir-fried noodles with chicken, onion, ginger, garlic, kohlrabi and carrot. So, what are you having for dinner? How was your week? I've been doing some cartooning. Lots of ink brush drawings that I'll perhaps share with you if you'll be so kind as to join me next week for your Fuzzy Friday Open Thread.

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:07 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookie Jar (22+ / 0-)

    Also suitable for capturing souls -- Bre-ke-ke!

    That was my sinister vodník laugh. And here's a photo of Marko the Vodník and his lovely Rusalka at our own little carnival held each year sometime in the summer.

    “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

    by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 11:05:54 AM PST

    •  You have (5+ / 0-)

      so much fun! I love that people still do these things in the face of expanding global banality! I wish we had meatfast parades here. The Czech people seem obsessed with water sprites, like your Rusalka there!

      I am in Wyoming--I guess we talked about that--and it's snowy like shown in your images. Now that it is March I can look in the seed catalogs to find the perfect carrots, tomatoes, chard, peas and beans for my stock tank gardens. I'll start the tomato seeds in late April and plant the other seeds directly into the tanks in mid-May.

      Dinner tonight consisted of a big bowl of mixed vegetables with butter, salt and pepper. I ate this because earlier in the day I made the mistake of eating some fish McNuggets at McNotfood. I find the best cure for the kind of system-wide upset that followed is something healthy and a promise to my guts to never eat that icky stuff again.

      How about you? Are you avoiding animal flesh for Lent?

      •  I've been pondering my seeds too (5+ / 0-)

        My mother-in-law works for a company that supplies everything from seed for big farms to wicker baskets for florists and she gave me some little samples of seed that is sold to farmers in bulk quantities; all sorts of stuff, barely labelled. I won't have to buy almost anything this year.

        I'm threatening to get a really early start on my pepper plants. I think most of the garden will be peppers from the number of varieties that I have.

        I wish I had more luck with tomatoes. I get huge, lovely plants and then, in the cool, drizzly autumn, I get a brown mold that blotches the leaves, stems and fruit before anything can ripen. I didn't even try growing any tomatoes last year. I've heard there are sprays that would help but I try to avoid that kind of thing in my garden.

        As for meat fasting, oddly enough, I made a fish soup for lunch yesterday but I'm not an observant follower of any religion.

        I didn't know McMuck was offering a fish nugget. I remember once telling my little sister to smell her Chicken McNuggets™ and after she did she couldn't finish eating them. For many years I managed to avoid eating at McDonald's but recently, with kids and the occasional long car ride, I've relaxed my boycott. It's not all bad. And it worries me when I start to take pride in things like avoiding certain brands of things. I still try to avoid McDonald's and fast food restaurants in general but I'm no longer a raging idiot about it and submit to the will of the sodium starved masses.

        “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

        by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:31:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You might be interested... (3+ / 0-)

          In trying a spray made only of a gallon of water, and a quarter cup of baking soda. The solution is weak enough to not damage foliage, but it will make the surface of the leaves and fruit inhospitable to most bacteria and fungi.

          (It works great for blackspot, too, and powdery mildew.)

          "Fast, Cheap, and Good... pick two." - director Jim Jarmusch

          by AnnCetera on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 05:41:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the tip! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            historys mysteries

            I may just try that. I miss being able to grow tomatoes. I don't know if I'll be around my garden enough to make a spray like that very effective (I suspect I'd need to renew it after rain) but I'm thinking I might just risk a plant or two this year.

            “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

            by Marko the Werelynx on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 06:55:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Marko ... (11+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Jonathan,

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:25:32 PM PST

  •  Delightful post! (17+ / 0-)

    So glad I caught it.

    Dinner will be dismal, I'm afraid. This hospital hasn't picked up on San Francisco's reputation as a fine-dining destination. Been here since Tuesday morning and would LOVE to go home if only I were able to!

    Friends (both IRL and online divisions) have been pretty wonderful. I feel very lucky. :-)

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 04:58:57 PM PST

  •  Charming diary (6+ / 0-)

    I'm so glad I checked it out. I love these wonderful happenstance travel stories. One of my favorites took place in Groningen on Sint Marten day. It was so authentically steeped in Dutch tradition that you really felt cultural continuity and the differences from your own.

    •  Thanks for that link! (6+ / 0-)

      In these parts Saint Martin's Day (November 11th) is associated with wine (and roasted goose) and snow. As a celebration of the first taste of the year's wine harvest it's a bigger event in southern Moravia where most of the wine growing takes place. As for the snow, the Czechs say that "Martin arrives on a white horse" because, in almanac style prognostication, the first snowfall is typically around the second week in November. My family doesn't do anything special to celebrate St. Martin's Day.

      With the influx of McDonald's and Starbucks and even Hooters in my city it's nice to at least have some cultural reminders that I'm not living in the US anymore.

      “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

      by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 08:14:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The world is encroaching on itself (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slksfca, crose, Marko the Werelynx

        I've been on this earth for 50 years and I can appreciate the accelerated changes in real time. It's great to see the past crop its head up wherever it survives.

        On the other hand, this may well be the most exciting time ever to be growing old.

        •  I've noticed that (3+ / 0-)

          the encroaching homogenizing of the world is causing a revival of old folk traditions. Sometimes they've taken on a bit more commercial flavor and there are odd artifacts of created heritage-- like somebody came up with a sweet, nutty almond dough roll of sorts and started selling it at stands wherever a festival or market springs up. It's called a "trdlo" and the signage on the stands always claim it's "traditional" and "old Czech". I've never met anyone who had ever heard of these things before a few years ago.

          Yes, it is a fascinating time to be alive. So much is changing. There are cards the size of my thumbnail that contain thousands of times more memory than my first computer. One of my friends is a technology fanatic and he's in the deep end of his 80's. I'm half his age and he keeps up with things better than I do. He lights up like a bulb in our local Apple store. It's so much fun to talk to him about the changes he's seen over his lifetime.

          I'm currently reading Mark Twain's book about "Life on the Mississippi" and he too witnessed an exciting era.

          “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

          by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 11:10:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Marko, thank you for the delightful post! (4+ / 0-)

    It was the perfect antidote to another one of those weeks. I especially liked this:

    I like the kids pulling the wagon for all the gifts they were receiving. Many of the gifts often come in shot glasses though.
    It made me laugh. :-D

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

    by Ooooh on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 08:48:52 PM PST

    •  Hiya Ooooh! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slksfca, Ooooh

      I was thinking about you and hoping you'd show up so I could make sure I'd flung a link at you.

      Actually, it's a link to a link but I wanted to call your attention to that diary in general because I wasn't the only one thinking about you in the comments and I didn't know if you'd wandered through.

      We'd caught the Masopust parade early on and folks were still in good shape and the wagon was nearly empty. It was funny to have wandered through the whole area without seeing more than a dozen people and just as we left a little restaurant (one of two) in a sleepy little village in the middle of the day -- turn a corner and what's that coming down the street?

      “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

      by Marko the Werelynx on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:45:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the links, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marko the Werelynx

        Like you I am not here all the time, I miss replies and wind up regretting dropping the ball at times. And I completely missed your 2/22 post. Oddly enough my ears must have been "burning" as I did come through with the email I owed that weekend. :-)

        What's changed is my job, it has become way more demanding, and on top of that this website just doesn't agree with other things on my computer at work, so I'm never signed in at work which means I lurk but without access to my stream, I miss a lot and don't always have time to check in when I get home late at night. I can see I need to make it a point to drop by on Fridays. :-)

        By the way, I finally have St. Gracie's on display in my computer room, where it seems most appropriate. I kept waiting until I had money to mat and frame it, and my artist niece suggested I mount it on some mat board and wrap it in protective film. She had film and a piece of mat board just the right size that matches the deeper color of the brick, it looks divine.

        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

        by Ooooh on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 07:16:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the print update. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ooooh

          I always love to hear how my little offspring are getting along in the world. I've got my own print of "St. Gracie's" on the wall near my drawing table.

          I think I've just about given up actually trying to keep informed as to the various shades of meta madness around here. I guess a couple more of my favorite folks around these parts have been banned. Seems I just log in these days to find out who's been banned and who's died since the last time I logged in. Caring is starting to look like an unfortunate investment. Sigh ...

          Oh well, hope to see you next Friday!

          “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

          by Marko the Werelynx on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 08:11:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nah, caring, while sometimes painful is never (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marko the Werelynx

            Unfortunate, dear one. {{{Marko}}}

            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I, scene 5

            by Ooooh on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 08:26:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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