What does a gal with a Bachelor’s degree and a (rather useless) MBA do once she has a baby? Dream of ways to escape the house and sit in a classroom full of people learnin’ stuff and things!
So she, or rather I, decided to take a class, a creative writing class! And there’s homework! And a fellow blogger to play at recess with! Today I share with you, assignment #2….because I didn’t do assignement #1. Because I am a truant.
Tetya Polya’s Farm
Tetya Polya’s farm was at least half-day’s journey from our own. I suspect that’s the reason we didn’t visit her more often, braving the trip only when there was a lot of work with which she needed help. She was older than my grandma, and consequently seemed ancient to me and she was all alone on that farm, save for her son. He was, the grown-ups whispered in confidence to one another, an alcoholic. To me they simply said “ill, he’s very ill” even though by then I was as familiar with the sickly sweet smell of alcohol seeping through a man’s pores as I was with the peonies that grew in my grandmother’s garden.
I couldn’t tell you how we traveled to get to her, train perhaps? Or car? Maybe a bus? Of all the details I remember about her, the journey to her home is not one I can coax from my vault of childhood memories.
Perhaps I only visited once, or perhaps each discrete memory I have of my visits there, my mind has chosen to weave together like a spider’s web, allowing me to crawl through them, starting from one point and always ending up somewhere unexpected, with no regard for chronology.
I remember, her hut was tiny, and reminded me of the izbushka of Baba Yaga, the home of the villainous grandmother witch, ever present in childhood fairytales. Tetya Polya seemed nothing like Baba Yaga. She was kind, spoke softly and always treated me to baked delicacies and fresh goat’s milk. But I couldn’t be sure that she did not turn wicked at nightfall. After all, she had a curious hump on her back, and always wore her kerchief tied tightly around her head making it impossible to check if there was a second pair of eyes hidden there. I soothed myself only with the knowledge that Tetya Polya’s hut stood firmly bolted to the ground, and everyone knew a genuine Baba Yaga would have a house that stood upon chicken feet, ready at a moment’s notice to dance with glee or turn about and chase a curious woodland hedgehog.
I remember, the dirt floors I was in charge of sweeping. Ever the Sisyphean task, no matter how well I swept, I was always rewarded with a new layer of dirt below the old one.
I remember, one early morning I burst through the pasture, a pint-sized renegade charging full speed ahead. All around me the birds spontaneously erupted into intricate chirps, harmonizing with one another, and I stopped in my tracks, marveling at the poetry of their work song.
I remember, one afternoon we spent shucking corn, separating the criss-cross textured outer leaves to uncover the spun gold silk and perfect rows of kernels underneath. The discarded pile of silk growing larger and larger, daring me to jump in and bury my face inside the sweet earthy scent.
I remember endless fields of wheat, row after row of dirt with potatoes growing underneath, and country animals of all sorts. Between the care-taking of the flora and fauna and keeping the four of us fed, we never ran out of things to do, and days were filled from sun up to dusk. The work never seemed grueling, but instead, invigorating. The animals never a nuisance, but instead wildly animated. The lack of conveniences, a turn of the tap, or electricity erased with the first taste of well water.
Could it really have been as idyllic as I recall? Or does my web of memories trick me into seeing it that way?