44 sunsets.

It was then that the fox appeared.

"Good morning," said the fox.

"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.

"I am right here," the voice said, "under the apple tree."

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."

"I am a fox," the fox said.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."

"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.

But, after some thought, he added:

"What does that mean--'tame'?"

"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"

"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean--'tame'?"

"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"

"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower . . . I think that she has tamed me . . ."

"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."

"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.

The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.

"On another planet?"


"Are there hunters on that planet?"


"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"


"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.

But he came back to his idea.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please--tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . ."

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."

The next day the little prince came back.

"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."

"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.

"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--

"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."

"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"Then it has done you no good at all!"

"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added:

"Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret."

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

And the roses were very much embarassed.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

And he went back to meet the fox.

"Goodbye," he said.

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."

"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."

"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Picture this:

Tasha, in a little blue Renault following a mountain road near Haţeg. Getting lessons (in Romanian) on how to drive stick. "Ambreiaj Ambreiaj!!" (Their word for "clutch" sounds much more romantic. We are so unrefined in America.) Anyway, I can drive stick! I can now officially move to Europe!

I think just about every image portrayed in this entry will scare my mother, who is my #1 reader. Don't worry, mom. I'm coming home in 9 days.


Dobrý Den!

This week, I watched a lightning storm from the banks of the Vlatva River. I sat overlooking rooftops of Prague, watching the sunset with excellent company and wholehearted conversation. I layed on the grass in many parks, taking naps and being swept away by every single page of The Little Prince. I lived like a Bohemian for a little bit each day (isn't that what you do when you go to Bohemia?) I let my feet get used to walking for miles on cobblestone; this was a struggle for the first few days. I picnicked on a castle wall and wrote stories from the same spot and in front of the same landscape that inspired great authors. I found my niche in a coffee shop among expats and wayfarers. I ended every evening in Old Town Square, watching crowds of hundreds of young people rallying for pub crawls and, on the other hand, retired couples on vacation admiring the architecture and sitting in jazz bars. I could cover a wall with my newly accumulated stack of metro tickets. I bought myself a tiny glass swan to satisfy lifelong desire for a glass menagerie. God is good to me; He met me in all these places and met with me and helped me take wrong turns that lead to beautiful sights and literally gave me fireworks when I told him He was far away.

I'm learning a lot about God and myself and Us.

Can I please tell you how good He is, once more? On the way back to Timisoara, I caught the sunset from a train car in the company of a blind, old woman who recited her own poetry, two schoolteachers, a folk singer, Lavi, a Spanish guitar and two music students who knew how to use it. We all had a story, and nobody would've known it if we hadn't been stuck together in miserable heat for 6 hours. Our car had filthy grafitti all over it and was dingy, but there was so much joy in that little space! Our surroundings didn't matter much (plus, the sunflower fields outside looked incredible against the pink of the sky). I think my favorite part was when one of the schoolteachers, who had been silent for hours, asked, "Could I fiddle around a bit too?" We were astonished. "Of course!" I was beaming from ear to ear when I heard him start singing, in a thick Romanian accent, "She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes". He ended his little gig with "One little, two little, three little Indians" and "My Bonnie lies over the ocean". It was incredible, like a scene from a movie.

And now, I get to rest up a bit and do some laundry before starting on another week of trains. Yes, yes, yes!


A fine morning contains these things:

Waking up to the smell of toast,
and being the last one up at 7:38 AM.

Making a latte so good that it slows the pace of a busy morning.

Listening to The Smiths,
and putting the linens up to dry.
(I love doing laundry.)

Rozi and I searching her pantry for the perfect jam to add to my yogurt. (Blueberry.)

Checking train schedules,
and practicing my Czech.

And packing our bags for Prague.


More stamps for your passport.

My dad and I took a bonzai-ish trip this weekend. We had no plans, just a map and a car we rented from our starting point in Budapest. More photos and stories to come. He is headed back to California in the morning, and my stay here officially goes solo.


Back on track. (Hah.)

I've missed my time on trains. It was a major source of comfort this past winter, and placing myself on a train in Eastern Europe provided immediate stability. I can't logically explain what these trips are for me--time to process and observe and pray and listen to music and daydream. Impulsive trips to the middle of the country and crossing your fingers for either an empty train car or a good bunch of characters. I like pretending I'm from here, and I like how good it feels when people assume you belong. I like whole days speaking a different language as if it has been mine all along--and with such nonchalance! What a feat.

Ashley and I hopped on a train to Hunedoara yesterday. All the busyness and learning we've had the past three weeks was all of a sudden hushed. Watching Ashley on the train, I could see that it was good for her soul, too :) I don't think we exchanged three sentences in those four hours. About 3 and a half hours en route, I called a friend I knew in the area, and he picked us up at the train station. We spent the hours we had together conversating and visiting a castle and listening to a Gypsy play worship music. Then we took a late train back home, and slept well.

Views along the way:
Gypsies and shepherds and little towns and just everything I've ever needed :)