March 11, 2012
The bridge linking Slovakia and Hungary, between the towns of Štúrovo and Esztergom, also links A Time of Giftsand Between the Woods and the Water. Here Paddy paused both in his walking and his writing, ‘meditatively poised in no man’s air,’ before crossing into Hungary and the second phase of his journey.
I reached that bridge a week ago (or rather the reconstruction of that bridge — the original was destroyed in 1944), and in a rather unbelievable way came to the very last page of my notebook standing above the Danube, the exact same point where A Time of Gifts ends and Between the Woods and the Water begins. This was never intended — my notes somehow paced themselves that way.
I was going to leave my copy of A Time of Gifts there, now battered and torn and muddy and rained on and scrawled with undecipherable notes, to be picked up perhaps by some other traveller. But in the end I had the urge to drop it in the Danube. I placed it underneath the railing and pushed it forward with my boot until it hung above the water, and then with a final nudge it fell with a splash and a scattering of pages, then sped downriver cover-up and at an unbelievable speed in the direction of Visegrád, which I would reach two days later.
Who knows how far it’ll get. The ice has gone from the river now but there will be hydroelectric dams, cargo ships, driftwood, fish from the east… perhaps, if it can navigate these perils, it might get through, in some pulped form, to the Iron Gates and on to the Black Sea.