Don’t mind the dwarf on a pigeon sitting on a ledge of Spiż Restaurant in Wroclaw’s Market Square, getting grumpy. Before the Internet and text messaging he was the oh-so-awaited messenger around the world. Today he just ponders the old times sipping beer at the Spiż. He wonders: how did the practice of bitter beer drinking outlast the ancient tradition of caring messages by pigeons? It was his inheritance, trade, passion and dignity. All but a history today, it is a bitter truth for him indeed!
Pigeons always knew how to fly home.
Thanks to this skill they were proven to be effective as massage carriers already by ancient Persian. Over 2000 years ago, the Romans also used pigeon messengers to aid their military. Even the Greeks conveyed the names of the victors at the Olympic games to their various cities by pigeons.
By the 12th century merchants, traders and travelers used messenger pigeons throughout Europe as a regular postal service. They were also great in military situations, indispensable in a siege or for naval purposes, sending messages from ships out in stormy waters. Various governments established whole systems of military communication by pigeon posts.
Still in the 19th century, before the telegraph was invented, pigeons were often considered as ways of sending messages amongst stockbrokers and financiers.
The pigeons were transported to a destination in cages. Before releasing there would be messages attached to them. Typically a small rolls of paper stored in a tiny glass or metal tube. Once the message was attached, the pigeon would fly home, thus delivering it and skipping over rough terrain, traffic, dishonesty, and human error.
In Medieval Europe, when the dwarfs were introduced to the craft the service became even more effective. Entire families of dwarfs became renown Pigeon Keepers. They could ride the pigeons to the destination away from home, skipping the often more dangerous pigeons-in-the-cage part of the process. Also, being more aware of human plots and traps, dwarfs steered away from many dangerous situations unforeseen by the birds on the way home.
The only problem was – many humans did not believe in dwarfs. But that was basically that: the unbeliever’s problem.
The Pigeon Keeper in Wroclaw comes from a family with history and traditions. His ancestors were essential aspects of politics, diplomacy and military actions throughout the Europe and West Asia. The pigeons they trained were used to carry messages during wars and peaceful times. The whole clan was respected and appreciated.
And today? He is still loved by all the pigeons around. They come swarming the Market Place, because they know he will never tire of cleaning their wings if a piece of bubble gum gets stuck to them, or their paws get tangled in plastic bags, ribbons and other human debris. They say he also tells them many unbelievable stories from long ago. But humans never spoke pigeon, so that might be just a fairy-tale...
If you visit him, please, use rather your camera than a phone to take a picture. He’s smart. He knows about the Internet. He knows that through your phone you can send his picture as a message across the globe in a seconds... And please, never text standing right in front of him. It really does hurt his feelings.
If you will not find him on the ledge, look above. There might be a pigeon sitting on a head of one of the brewers sculpted over the entrance to the Spiż Restaurant. Chances are that his rider sneaked again for another pint of Dark Caramel.
My friend, ZuzAnna treated me to that caramel beer at Spiż. It was cold and smooth. They brew it in the pub, right in the basement cellar of the old Town Hall. Which is very special. We enjoyed it outside because the weather was great, and it was fun to watch the street artists and musicians on the Market Square. And the pigeons, they make their own music! Even though nobody can understand a word of their songs.
The beer was gone and suddenly the pigeons flew away, and I swear I saw the Pigeon Keeper puling his hat very bad-temperedly even more over his eyes... there was a drone hovering above us. Taking pictures? Delivering something?
Times change inevitably.
I mentioned Spiż Restaurant and Brewery without their knowledge or any incentives from them. The beer was ACTUALLY really good.
is a graphic designer and photography enthusiast.
is my little mascot! It is the most innovative, and techy dwarf ever known. He lives in a city called Wrocław, where dwarfs coexist with humans. Rumor has it he also likes taking pictures.
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