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Harvest time

July 25, 2011

Being away from Kirovograd for a few weeks during the summer, for me, meant that not a lot would change. After all, people leave during the summer – to their dachas, on vacation, or (for students) back to their home city or village. And how much does a city really change in only a few weeks time? I mean, the beer tents did not go up this year, so…that seems to be the largest change.

For the most part, I was right. I noticed a few changes – the construction that has been going on one building since I have been here is finished and that part of the sidewalk is clear. However, the scaffolding showed up a block away, where construction has begun on another building. There are more people out and about, and people are not wearing as transparent of clothing as they did last year – then again, last year at this time we were in the middle of a 40 degree (that’s over 100 farenheit) heat wave.  And I noticed that for some reason to which I am not privy, a bunch of the vendors who used to sell their wares on the streets in the center have been chased out, and who knows where they are set up now, if they are set up at all. Kind of takes some of the “personality” out of the center, what with the beer tents AND the vendors being gone. Perhaps the city wants them in the bazaars, where they have to pay rent? I don’t know…

But the biggest change I have noticed is that all of a sudden more area surrounding the bazaars are clogged with people. Even more so than usual. People selling produce, people buying produce.  And they stake out their claim early in the morning – too early for me to want to get up. Unfortunately it means they also pack up early, and I don’t finish work until after they do. So I experience it by proxy – I must walk through the people but am not buying anything.

We are smack in the middle of summer harvest season, and the cucumbers are at 3 uah for a kilo. Tomatoes are higher this year than they were at this time last year, but still a good price. Apricots are crazy cheap – and I have a tree outside my building where I can get some. Peaches are in high season. Unfortunately, strawberries are already out of season and raspberries are bordering on the same. Why can’t berry season last? And as for blueberries? I did not see them in my city at all this year – they must have kept them all in the west!

All this seasonality is good for us, health-wise. However, while enjoying the fresh produce and herbs, I know that within two months, everything will be gone, with the exception of apples and pears (and squash). As much as I love the produce, I just cannot eat as much of it as I want, and am a little sad knowing that soon I will be eating cabbage, carrots, and onions (with the occasional zucchini as a treat) for six or seven months.

Me with a "tan". Or as tan as I get...

I am also getting tan – at least my arms and feet are getting tan. Between walking around Odessa last week and my attempts to walk here (I walked TO work this morning, but took a marshrutka home, it was just a little too warm) I am getting a surprising amount of color, even though I use sunblock. It’s not even though, and anyone who saw me in a swimsuit would be amused at the “tan lines” I have on my arms, legs, and feet. But for someone so used to hiding under long sleeves (even in summer) and in air conditioning, this is a change. It’s probably also contributing to my fast aging here!

So my second summer in Ukraine is going more quickly than I thought. Then again, I should have anticipated this, with the way I scheduled my summer. I did not want to be bored, and wanted to take advantage of vacation days and invitations, so I have not been “home” much so far. After this week in Kirovograd, I am off to Sudak to work at a camp (and yes, I am pretty nervous about working with kids, not something I usually do).

However, I am enjoying it. It is rainier and not as hot as last summer – this can be viewed as good or bad, depending on what you like. I am okay with the heat, just like to have a fan…and my clothes dry faster when it is warm out!

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