Monday, May 1, 2006

Neighbors

Monday, May 01, 2006 7:54:17 PM
Now we get Part 2 of the story that started last Saturday, after the successful shopping trip ended. I took the train back to Shchuch'ye from Chelyabinsk. It was a fine train ride, but very crowded. I've never seen it so crowded, and it stayed crowded all the way to Shchuch'ye. When I got to Shchuch'ye I was about the last one to the platform, because of the bike. Most of the taxis had fares already. One was left, but he quoted me a number that I could not interpret. While I was trying to figure it out, he wandered off, so I guessed he wasn't really interested in a fare. But about the same time I also noticed that there were mashrutka taxis in the parking lot, and one of them had a sign saying "Shchuch'ye - Chumlyak"! I headed over to it, and did my best Russian "Eta vos mozhnu?" - Is this permissable? and pointed to the bike. Nobody said beans, so I popped the front wheel off, and stuffed the bike in with a bus load of people. It only barely fit, as this bus was full! To my dismay, before we got out of town, the driver even picked up 3 more people! One man sat in the aisle, a lady and the young child with her stood in the entryway. Not exactly a safety advert, but we weren't going far.
After I had gotten in, though, a lady in the back started speaking to me. This is a bit unusual for Russians, but she seemed pretty friendly. She said something about "Soviet" something something. I caught almost none of this, but something tickled my memory. If she said "Sovietskaya", maybe she was from Chumlyak, and had heard of my wanderings around - or maybe she even had heard of my going to Sovietskaya that one time! About 5 minutes passed, and my memory clicked. Maybe she was the lady from Sovietskaya who showed me where the magazine was!
At Planovy almost half the people got out. Then, I said to her: "Is your house in Sovietskaya?" "Da". Ok, then, "Is your name Nina?" "Nyet, Nadia". Oh, I was close! I remembered who she was though! We attempted to pass a couple of sentences, without much success. When we got to Chumlyak, everybody got out, and I walked through town with Nadia. We tried to talk a little, without much luck. We stopped at the new magazine, and the ladies there were glad to see me back again. We went on through town a bit, and during our conversation for some reason I showed her my mittens, which had developed holes in the thumbs. She rattled on about something, but I got the sense that she was talking about fixing the mittens, and offering to do so. I took her up on the offer, and told her I would come by the following day.
The following day, I didn't feel much like doing anything, but I finally marshalled enough energy to get on my bike and move. I went down the hill to the field between the camp and Sovietskaya. And, at the bottom I notice that my rear tire was about half pressure. "Great," I thought "no way to fix a flat here". I headed back to the camp, and called it a day. I did fix the flat, which was from a sliver of glass through the tire. But I had no energy for anything else useful.

Today, I went in to work for about 5 or 6 hours. Afterwards I felt enough energy to get myself on the bike, down the hill, and over the field to Sovietskaya. I got there, and the first house I came to had what looked like an older man out doing gardening. But it turned out to be Nadia! Her flock of goats was grazing about, enjoying the new spring grass. She has some chickens, a couple of dogs, and a couple of cats. She took me into the courtyard of her house. There was a narrow path through, flanked by stacked cordwood, assorted tools and other stuff. We tried to talk, and I can make sense of about one word in ten of what she is trying to say. I brought a small box of teabags, to be a good guest. She got out a large jug of cherries and cherry juice she had canned last fall, and poured me a cup of juice. Delicious.

She has wood that needs splitting. I offered to, and then did, split one log for her today, and I told her I would come back this weekend to split wood for a while. She got out a little bicycle, and rode it back across the field with me as I headed home.

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The weather today is absolutely beautiful. We are now into the "Long Days" part of the year. The sun is up early, and down late. I love it. The temp is still very cool and unseasonably so. The wind has been very strong, and coldly so. The sky has been partly cloudy or broken clouds, but yesterday and today, the sun has come out and warmed things. It has felt great! The air is fairly calm today, without much wind. The sun came out this morning, and felt deliciously warm.

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