What is the Hortobágy steppe?
An unknown island on the mainland.
«Island» because it is surrounded by the sea of the civilized world: its shores are populous cities, well-cultivated grain-distributing lands laden with homesteads, tobacco farms, planted forests, gardens; and he himself is a desert that the plowman never ripped up. I can rightly call it “unknown”; for those who come here to have fun for hire will all settle there in the Hortobágy restaurant, return from there, the two big cattle fairs of the year will be held there on the plain in front of the big bridge in Hortobágyparti; but one is seldom thrown into the mere infinite labyrinth: one does not even try without a skilled guide; – apart from those two hundred and sixty shepherds, the three veterinarians, the Commissioner of the Puszta and his field judges, no one can walk around the real Hortobágy steppe itself.-65-
That’s the enthusiastic population of an area of fifty-two thousand acres: two hundred and sixty people. But the footstool, which is in their care, shall be fifty thousand.
The whole area is nothing but pasture: in spring there is a lot of water, in summer there is little, where it is not «toddler», it is dry there: its vegetation is lush, nothing but creeping grass and chair grass.
In the old descriptions we find reeds, lakes: they no longer have a hire; taken away by the Tisza Regulation. During the great flood, they went by boat in this steppe: on Hortobágy there was a two-wheel mill, which was ground for the city. In the description of Lajos Kuthy, wild boars still appear. Eagle hunting used to be famous in the countryside: now it’s a wonder to see one. Forty years ago, when I had fled the Muscovites, after the laying down of weapons, a foal boy boy led our chariot through Hortobágy through a half-day-long reed in axial water; in the middle of the reeds was a lake, the shore of which was bordered by herons and egrets. Today there are no reeds or lakes. Pasture the whole area three hours walking in width and length.
And how wonderful a variety there is in this apparent monotony! Outlaw romance is also an extinct end; but how much prehistoric poetry remains here in nature, as in folk life!
In the spring, the most interesting thing to see is Hortobágy, when everything is still green, and the trillions of flies, moths, mosquitoes and muslicas have not yet taken over.
The hospitality of the Debrecen City Council provides princely comfort to the well-liked folk artist, traveler, painter, foreign and domestic sights. Every decent person who wants to walk around the Hortobágy steppe will find kind hospitality, and even if he does not bring a stick with him as a defense, just deliver his leisure needs to the least.-66-
Like the magnificent five-toothed teeth of the city (which is itself a study for a painter, with its original Hungarian-faced carriage and the «Lajos» hair on the buck), we leave the two-sided homesteads on the fifty-meter-wide country road, the last of which the tobacco rays, while along the bushlands a whole long line of female-maid virits, with their red dresses, who eradicate the tares from the sowing: we cut through the memorable «Blood Valley», we leave the horses to run themselves at the Kadarcsi inn; then follows the «Kö-út». This is the beginning of Hortobágy. Here are the sheep shears. The flocks of sheep, which were washed the day before on the artificial incinerator built into the waters of Hortobágy, are herded here, and then the women are freed from their fur-rich fur coats in very large barns.
If there is naive mood among the visitors, who is wondering, how can sheep (rams, females alike) be attacked by such a wonderful screw-shaped horn? the shepherd explains nicely that a hot zipper is pulled on its horns every day and hence wound on such a zipper; and he says it with such a serious representation that it would be an insult to doubt it.
Fortunately, among the guide gentlemen there is the most popular figure of Hortobágy, Dr. Mátyás Deli, who was once a friend, but left the reverend there, and is now an excellent waist veterinarian: a funny figure for those who understand the joke; but those who find serious meaning behind the joke are an invaluable guide to them. He is the godfather, bridesmaid, judge, priest, teacher, and oracle of all steppe sons: he is not called “our father.”-67-
Dr. Mátyás Deli Mingyár introduces us to the social conditions here. “There is no equality even among the shepherd people: there are ranks here too. At the top is the goulash: these are the counts of Hortobágy; then comes the foal: this commonplace, the steppe gentry. Goulash and foal make friends; but it is no longer a pleasure to mix with the other two, among whom the «bonfire» ranks first (which is characteristic of Debreczen, which is proud of its pig breeding), the shepherd comes last. And even among them, the shepherd of the Hungarian sheep comes first, and finally the guardian of the bred sheep remains. The old civis farmer in Debrecen still loves the Hungarian sheep better than the merino sheep; so he believed, “these are innocent goods”; the name of them goes to him: «this is the ugly worm».
The reason for the anger is that the Hungarian sheep graze straight ahead, leaving something for the flock that follows, but the merino sheep graze to the right to the left, cutting the pasture all bald.
“The shepherd never tells the truth; the condon tells the truth, but swears rudely and ugly; the foal is stubborn and does not allow itself to be questioned; the goulash is honorable, has little talk, but what he says is in place. ”
«When the shepherd settles in the inn, as he puts the bottle of wine in front of him, he immediately begins to sing. And he will not let him go while he is in the wine; the condensate curses, cursing while drinking; then when the foal comes, he begins to bachelor, talking perky and teasing; and when the goulash gets to the drinking table, he holds the respect above the others, listens loudly, speaks slowly, and only towards the end comes “no well I know a new song too!” then you will have fun. ”
We got to know all four varieties very quickly, and the doctor was right!
We reach another inn on the way, galloping along the Hortobágy plain with the fast five horses, while the tower of the New Town church accompanies us on the horizon. Two large herds of cows are left behind us, each in a thousand-68-get up standing beautiful cimeric horned animals! Flocks of sheep, pork loins, but no studs yet. They are beyond the Hortobágy River.
The foal says: “The Lord God also created the water of Hortobágy to separate the waist animal from the sheep!” Beyond the waters of Hortobágy, she should no longer show the cheeks of sheep and sheep, and there can be no question of pigs! It can only pull itself by the paddock like an evildoer sentenced to death.
Suddenly, the New Town Tower is left behind and only reappears in Hebrew when the mirage picks it up in the air. In front of us is the infamous Hortobágy inn. Waist stone building, outside on the country road, never surrounded by a fence. There are plenty of cars next to it. Good wine, good cuisine, comfortable guest rooms, a restaurant for gentlemen and a spacious drinking room for shepherds and carters. Once upon a time, it was a notable accommodation, when the squid went to Budapest on this road, and maybe again it will be when the Debrecen-Füze-Abony railway is realized and a steam locomotive blows along the Hortobágy. It is now inhabited only by invited guests.
The restaurant now has a garden, at its foot the Hortobágy River flows with great slowness, the width is like the Garam in normal time. The landmark of the countryside is the huge stone bridge that runs through it, resting on nine vaulted columns. The saying that during its construction the lime was added to it with milk was so durable.
This bridge is merely the highest elevation. From here we see the studs brought forward from several sides approaching.