The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.
Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale - partly true, partly fiction.
Kolaches with Birds and Bees
Genre: Young Adult Science Non-fiction
We were gathered around Selena and Micha’s kitchen table. While visiting this quaint Czech village, they had invited us to their home for coffee and dessert. The table setting included urns of steaming hot coffee and platters of round pastries topped with sweet fillings.
When their young daughter reached for a poppyseed-filled kolache, Micha slowed her hand. “Tereza, tell our guests something you learned in school.”
Her disappointment slowly turned to delight. “We learned about the birds and the bees. Would you like me to recite the lesson?”
Our nervousness over hearing a lesson on reproduction was clearly misinterpreted.
“Tereza,” her father said, “our guests are growing restless for dessert. Give your report so they can enjoy your mother’s kolaches.”
“Our temperatures and seasons,” Tereza began, “are not much different from weather in your Wisconsin. Snow comes often in winter. Otherwise, we have warmer temperatures and enjoy the entertainment of what is called the birds and the bees. Let me tell you about this.
“Here in Hosti, Bohemia, we have many colorful birds: grouse and rose finch and even woodpeckers. In fish ponds, you will see white-tailed eagles and cranes. Storks and buzzards frequent our wooded areas and valleys. But we have no crows, none at all.
“Instead, magpies have taken over, especially the white-throated ones. They are not nocturnal and do not keep company with nightingales. They tend to frequent areas where hives of honey bees proliferate. That is how bees keep their population high, by . . . um, proliferation.”
Tereza stopped until her mother offered encouragement.
“The magpies do not eat honey and they are not bee-eaters. They prefer eating mice and cockroaches, and spiders whole. That is why these birds and bees get along so well together, or rather apart. They do not eat or sting each other.
“I like magpies because they eat things I really, really do not like, especially creepy crawly spiders.” Smiling, she said, “Now for dessert.”
Selena gave us a conspiratorial wink. “She only agrees to tell her birds and bees story when promised an extra kolache, preferably poppyseed.”
No one fought over a choice of prune or poppyseed. There were plenty for everyone.