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Do You Believe in Dragons?




Never mind the pierogis. I heard rumors about dragon bones--that's the whole reason I wanted to go to Poland. I kept thinking to myself, The world is a mess right now. I need some magic in my life, or I'm going to shrivel up. Next thing I knew, my family and I were on a 10-hour road trip from The Netherlands, through Germany, to Poland.


The pandemic has been affecting my creativity, for better or for worse. Some days, I'm so anxious I can't seem to access the part of my brain that dreams and writes about magic. Other days, I'm up all night writing because I cannot sleep. When the EU borders reopened, the Europeans all around us began traveling again, and I followed their lead. Hitting the open road after so many months at home was exhilarating.


My first oder of business was a dragon hunt. In Krakow, on top of Wawel Hill, there is a castle, and within the castle walls, a cathedral. Above the cathedral door, hanging precariously from a thick, iron chain, there are three large bones that have remained in that very spot for hundreds of years. The locals swear these bones belonged to Smok Wawelski (Polish for the Wawel Dragon). I really do believe them.



Smok Wawelski's lair was in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River. This particular dragon was fond of eating young maidens. Great warriors from near and far tried to destroy him and failed. One day, a cobbler’s apprentice named Skuba stuffed a lamb with sulphur and set it outside the dragon's cave. The dragon ate it and became so thirsty, it drank from the Vistula River for hours, until it exploded. As the story goes, Skuba was offered the king’s daughter’s hand in marriage as a reward, and he went on to found the city of Krakow.



We visited the dragon’s bones outside the cathedral, stood at the foot of a dragon statue that breathes real fire at the foot of Wawel Hill, and then climbed down, down, down an endless spiral staircase into the caves beneath the castle to the dragon’s lair, where I snapped a photo of the rocks that looked normal in person, but formed a spooky face in my photo--do you see it?


My kids loved our dragon hunt, but I loved it more. It helped me to return to a magical state of mind and get my creativity back on track. I hope all my fellow writers and artists are finding their way back to the creative spaces that inspire them. The world needs you and your art.


Tell me, how has your creativity been affected by the pandemic? What things have you done to get your groove back? And---I'm asking this one on behalf of my son---do you believe in dragons?




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