Friday, September 30, 2005

Boloto ne Zoloto

That mud is the bane of many a Ukrainian villager—especially in agricultural, hilly or pre-Carpathian, erosion-ridden and therefore mud-covered, rural Western Ukraine—is illustrated by the comment that, “Boloto ne Zoloto!” No two terms could be more opposing in this rural struggle. Just change one letter of both terms, and you discover between them a dialectical unity of sorts: They form two poles of a single continuum that are immanent to one another. Thus, sometimes, mud is as good as gold, as it is these days, in the fall of 2005 in Pidhajtsi, during a fall harvest season with no rain. It is just short of damn near impossible to pull those money-makers, those damned little cash-crops, by hand when the top soil is baked a solid cake above the bulbs of sugar beats. So we have done no sugar beet harvesting. There is an acre and half or more waiting to be pulled. It’s a lot of work as it is when the topsoil is wet and friendly and readily allows the bulbs to pop free, but now the season is getting late. Soon we will have to hit the fields with shovels, to dig nearly each one from the ground, if the rain does not arrive—and one starts to wonder whether all the work be worth the pittance one will receive for the cash crop. These folks here, my family, are subsistence farmers with some supplemental income. They have no choice—they need whatever money they get, no matter how aggravating the work will be. So we wait for the rains until the latest possible moment. If you are Christian, pray for for rain for western Ukraine. If you are pagan, do a dance. And if you are Buddhist, you will advise us all here to calm our minds and just get to the work at hand with a peaceful mind, no matter how hard it is!

More later, gotta catch a bus back to Pidhajtsi. . .writing from Ternopil. . .

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