Giewont towers over the length of Zakopane. His legend is pertinent; partially because it’s still yet to come true. The legend goes like this. Somewhere under the sleeping giant is a cave full of Polish knights. Just like Giewont, they sleep. If and when Poland is in grave trouble, these brave knights will wake and defend Poland against all odds. Little ironic, no? Like where were they seventy years ago? Was Hitler being on one side and Stalin on the other squeezing Poland like it was a ripe raspberry not enough reason to wake up a bunch of knights? Or does über patriotic Poland in all its moments of blind defence need this legend of sleeping knights just to feel a little better about itself? Another invasion? Still tired? Oh well.
On Monday morning, the rain stopped us going out. We’d got dressed, looked out. Sat back down again. By midday it had settled into thick mountain drizzle. Antosia came back from town at lunchtime.
She shook her head when we explained we were hemmed in by the weather.’I didn’t even wear a scarf on my head.’ She made cauliflower soup in record time. Then she grabbed my arm. ‘Watch this.’ Breadcrumbs in a bowl. Eggs. Flour. She brought out a bunch of plums. ‘Too big,’ she said, shrugging, ‘but they ran out of the little ones.’
We made dumplings. ‘Delphine,’ she called, ‘come and close them.’ Delphine came and was watched over by raptor-eyes to make sure she used her right hand. Man, she was good.
‘If you had to live in a place other than here, where would you live?’ Lulu asked. We’d eaten in the hallway dining room. Hania ate with us too. My grandmother and mother didn’t get the question at all. ‘I could only live where we live,’ they both said. Where’s the imagination in that?
Antosia closed her eyes for a moment. ‘I’d live in the desert,’ she said. ‘I like the desert.’
Deserts? Here we were surrounded by conifer and rock. The smell of the wooden house.
‘She’d wrap the scarf around her face,’ Lulu said, her face lighting up. ‘Until you could only see her eyes.’
I’d watched Lu’s face. ‘And she’d ride a horse,’
‘An Arabic pedigree,’ my grandmother said, smiling.
Antosia smiled back wistfully. ‘Have you ever been to Petra in Jordan? Petra is nice.’
‘And me?’ Hania said, slamming a fist on the table. ‘Where would you put me?’
We turned to her. ‘Where would you like?’
‘I’d like somewhere where the winters aren’t so hard. Where my garden will grow anything I put in it.’
‘Ahhh! You need a volcanic island.’
‘Hawaii!’ Delphine shouted.
Oh yeah. Hawaii, we agreed. ‘You can wear a hula skirt and dance. Climb up the volcano.’
At every suggestion, Hania’s giggles became louder against the log walls. After we’d sorted out the youngsters; New York for Lu – since, according to Antosia, she’d be busy writing up their stories – and Malibu for Du. Looking for Barbie’s dream closet. The mountain sisters turned to me. ‘And you? Where will be be?’
I sighed. It had been the nicest of lunches. I gestured to the direction of the two fir trees. ‘I’ll be in your deckchair, waiting for you to call. “Everything’s fine here,” I’ll say when I answer the phone. I’m looking after everything.’