Thursday, October 3, 2013

Things That Stand Out

A Saturday trip to the mountain to fill a week's supply of plastic bottles with mineral water.

My host reading Eminescu (Romania's national poet) to me in a lulling and expressive iambic rhythm. I don't understand the words, but I feel the poem, and then I copy it out in my notebook to feel each individual letter.

Mihai Eminescu - Fiind Băiet Păduri Cutreieram

Fiind băiet păduri cutreieram
Şi mă culcam ades lângă isvor,
Iar braţul drept sub cap eu mi-l puneam
S-aud cum apa sună-ncetişor:
Un freamăt lintrecea din ram în ram
Şi un miros venea adormitor.
Astfel ades eu nopţi întregi am mas,
Blând îngânat de-al valurilor glas.

Răsare luna, -mi bate drept în faţă:
Un rai din basme văd printre pleoape,
Pe câmpi un val de arginţie ceaţă,
Sclipiri pe cer, văpaie preste ape,
Un bucium cântă tainic cu dulceaţă,
Sunând din ce în ce tot mai aproape...
Pe frunza-uscate sau prin naltul ierbii,
Părea c-aud venind în cete cerbii.

Alături teiul vechi mi se deshcide:
Din el ieşi o tânără crăiasă,
Pluteau în lacrimi ochii-mi plini de vise,
Cu fruntea ei într-o maramă deasă,
Cu ochii mari, cu gura-abia închisă;
Ca-n somn încet-încet pe frunze pasă,
Călcând pe vârful micului picior,
Veni alături, mă privi cu dor.

Şi ah, era atâta de frumoasă,
Cum numa-n vis o dată-n viaţa ta
Un înger blând cu faţa radioasă,
Venind din cer se poate arăta;
Iar păru-i blond şi moale ca mătasa
Grumazul alb şi umerii-i vădea.
Prin hainele de tort subţire, fin,
Se vede trupul ei cel alb deplin.


Walking home from the park with my 10-year-old playmate, we pass a horse grazing (much like this picture) in an empty playground. I think, how great is that, and then ahead of us on the sidewalk, I notice a man holding a rust-colored chicken in one hand, another bird lying near him in a small grass ditch by the road. Another man walks up to him and hands him a large knife (more like a saw). We stop to watch as he places the chicken on the grass and saws off its head, tosses the body to the grass. The headless hen twitches and flops in the little ditch as I count in my head to 15 mississippi. It stills. It reminds me of a story my dad told me about going downtown to pick out a chicken with his Romanian grandmother. I turn to see the little girl beside me smiling; this is just everyday stuff. The other man hands over some lei (Romanian dollars), presumably for the chicken. We continue walking down the sidewalk to the house.

Day trip to Botosani (in the northeast): 

Miles and miles of drooping, golden sunflowers, cornfields, people walking cows with a rope down the narrow roads (some gravel, at times paved), horse-drawn carts. All of the roads winding around the natural landscape of the country. We get lost. No GPS service to guide us. Two maps. We stop at least 8-9 times ask villagers, Is this the way to Botosani? They point the way, and we arrive 3-4 hours later. The family feeds me soup with chicken, bread, mashed potatoes, more chicken, chicken livers, cherry liquor, wine, dessert bread with sweet cheese and raisins (they break off a piece that is at least the size of half a loaf, and say, "yours"), hot milk, coffee. For the first time since I've arrived, I learn to say "full"--a word that, though quick and tiny, will become very important in the proceeding days. After all this eating, we go out for a Romanian dessert (see above). Then back to the family's apartment, where we eat watermelon (1/4 of a watermelon per person), and pretzel-shaped biscuits. So much eating.

(to be continued...)

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