Coming from the bustling streets of Prague, I was ready for the lull and undiscovered woods of the countryside. I had pieced together my idea of Novy Mlyn from images on a computer screen: sweetly colored pears basking outside, an endearing huddle of mushrooms in the bottom of a basket, a row of trees bending together in the mist of a field, instructions on how to fix a butterfly wing: A conglomeration of whimsy and authenticity. When Mike picked me up from the bus station (after nearly getting killed by an ornate bus) I was already enamored with the Czech countryside and it’s bassooning hills. Novy Mlyn unfolded into all of those images I had first imagined and then multiplied on itself in depth and form and sense. There were eons of wealth in this piece of land, the four floors of space and earthy smells, the heaving barns and scrawling lush trees. I became convinced that magic burgeoned from the soil: the wild hedgehogs cultivated it, the pennybuns discussed the intricacies of the land’s fantasy. Off in the middle of the night there were exhilarated creatures that met with joyfully patterned scarves; they waved them around in ancient dances and ceremonies to preserve the spirit of this place. Yes, the land seemed enchanted and would enchant anyone who listened to it. Mike and Nic had listened carefully and they had found themselves intimately connected and tending to an accordion of history, intoxicating corridors and blossoming spaces.
It was solacing to run your palm along the cool walls of the house, see the winter light through the warm kitchen windows, smell the footprints and creaks in the encompassing attic. The house is an organism, alive in its transformation. The wood stoves its sultry respiratory system, its peeling walls its constantly renewing skin. Nic and Mike revitalized its heart and all the workawayers are guided around the house’s circulatory and nervous system, like artistic plasma.
There was not one project I did not enjoy working on. I started refinishing a window, its layers of sea green paint telling me about the turn of the century. We unsheathed the attic from a cloak of dust and bat leftovers, the air crisp and the atmosphere nostalgic. We fondled presents from the ocean and destroyed yet delicate china until the tesserae were laid out on the window sill in a mosaic. I helped button up the corners of the house and prepare it for winter (that came overnight). We all cooked and laughed and slept in warm beds. There is a constant air of movement and progress at Novy Mlyn: Refigure. Build up. Tear down. Smooth away. Research about. Wire together. Clear. Stitch. Make. Continue.
Amidst the work we wandered through the woods. When the snow fell the whole valley became even more sacred. We found a herd of horses careening through the wet ground and nuzzling in the cold. We came across an architect’s grave; an oval portrait with muted color in his cheeks by the patient lake. Novy Mlyn took its blanket of snow gracefully and shined in its white coat.
It was so hard to leave such a wonderful place with lovely people that we decided to stay longer. When the time finally came for our departure, we wrapped all the interesting projects and ideas, shared dinners and marvelous cats into a resonating memory. Novy Mlyn will be vivid to me in its pocket of enchantment nestled by the edge of the world. I think Nic and Mike and Novy Mlyn have found the perfect match in each other and I wish them all the best. I hope I can come back someday, maybe to live in the attic!