The wooden paneling glistens under the embers of the ceiling lamp which clicks quietly as the wind whirs outside. Ceaseless muffled chatter permeates through the floor from below. A blanket of heat entombs the room producing a curtain of condensation that coats the kitchen window. The same window also belongs to the bedroom, living room and dining room; it becomes clear that contained warmth makes up for confined spaces in Žabljak.
A gentle tap at the door stirs me from my drowsiness. The door cracks open and a warm sweetness wafts through the air. A young girl blinks at me, cradling a basket full of freshly baked priganice, a leavened fried dough popular amongst many Montenegrins. She gingerly places the wicker vessel in my hands before dashing off down the stairs.
“Hvala! (Thank you!)” I call to her.
It is clear that her father has given her more errands to run.
The warm bread buckles as I tug at either end, the same sweet aroma billowing out of the doughy pores. I savour every bite, even licking my fingers which are coated in fine sugar, much like the powdered snow that falls outside.
I raise my sleeve and press it against the glass, pulling water droplets down the window pane. Darkness enshrouds the forested land outside but intermittent glints of snow speckle the black cascade.
“Sneg… (snow…)” I whisper to myself, remembering the brief encounter I had with the innkeeper earlier that day.
“Sneg! Sneg! Sneg!” I remember him shouting from the veranda, gesticulating wildly with his digits which were akin to falling snow.
He then pointed his index finger towards the floor.
“Veče (evening)” he continued, suppressing the excitement between his palms which he gently angled against his cheek.
He had told me it was going to snow in the evening.
I smile at the thought as I tuck into another bun which retains as much warmth as the room I am in. Before long, my hand reaches for another, landing in a bun-less mount of white powder. I laugh, edging open the window which scratches against the rustic frame. Slowly I tip the basket, watching the stream of sugar disappear into the darkness below.