summer, like my jar of sent-from-america jiffy peanut butter, is coming to a regretful end. soon my flourishing freckles from the summer sun will fade and the plastic peanut butter jar will be thoroughly scrapped clean. school will start in a few weeks, all the students will come back to the dormitories and the free days of summer will be regimented into a busy schedule.
yesterday i got my bike out for a ride only to regrettably find that the front tire was completely flat (and probably due to the reason that the day before i had to pick thorns from it and heard a sad cry of air escaping). i may have said some rather unbecoming words to my tire, as though it could understand, and turned to head to put it back inside. where it would stay in the corner, untouched and unridden. and constant reminder of the fun it use to be. i dreaded the thought of how i was going to go about fixing it. the store i bought it at was an hour and a half walk away and i don’t even know much about tires. even less about them when speaking in ukrainian/russian.
i lugged my bike shamefully back inside and without even thinking i donned on my running gear and headed out for a run. my head was still swirling with ideas of the wind in my hair and the feeling of owning the dirt paths…so running was the closet thing. and it was a great run. i even ran my best time! but it was probably to the credit of my bike frustration aaaaand the fact that my two neighbor boys were biking behind me coaching me as i went. (if only every run could be like that one)
when i got back from my run, my neighbor asked if my bike had a flat tire. i was kind of taken back sine at the time that all happened, my neighbor was no where insight, or so i thought. (you’d be amazed how many eyes are watching you all. the. time.) by whichever means they found out, i’m glad they did since they told me to bring it by after dinner and they’d fix it for me. i was ecstatic and had a brilliant glimmer of hope that i’d soon be back to riding.
after fixing an exciting dinner of buckwheat, canned peas, and canned beans (fourth day in a row) (but i should justify myself by saying this is not for my lack of cooking knowledge, it’s for the lack of me not owning any farmland with delicious crops and the lack of grocery stores in my village…so don’t judge me) i brought my bike out from it’s corner of shame and took it across the street. my neighbor’s oldest son took it from me and promised to have it fixed by tomorrow. so i stood there for a while talking with gathering of neighboring kids. ira, my neighbor’s 5 year old daughter is the cutest of them all. she’s the happiest 5 year old i’ve ever met and her laughter is the sound of all the happiest things you can think of in the world all bundled up in to one noise. and it’s wonderfully contagious. half the time i really don’t know what she’s saying to me a) because she’s 5 and b) because she’s usually speaking russian. either way, she doesn’t seem to mind that i only pretend to understand. she used to be so shy at first only peeping at me from behind her fence. but now she runs to me with open arms screaming ‘KRISTINA! KRISTINA!’ (what they call me here). and while i may not have any friends my own age here, at least i have ira. sometimes 5 year old friends are better anyways.
as i sat there playing with ira under my neighbor’s pear tree, ira’s mom, lena, asked me if i ate the watermelons they gave me to which i somewhat embarrassingly answered ‘yes’. yes i ate the two whole giant delicious watermelons you gave me. by myself. in one week. (when you’ve been eating only buckwheat beans and peas, you would too). my neighbor told me to ‘simply ask for more when i run out we have plenty!’ then ira got up from my lap, ran behind the house and rolled two heavier-than-herself watermelons towards my feet. i was so excited and totally not even close to be watermelon out that i eagerly accepted them. along with a bag full of tomatoes and onions. i went home feeling so grateful and confident that with two NEW ingredients to my pitiful cupboard, the culinary world would be mine. well sorta.
i was sitting outside eating some watermelon (surprise!) and reading my third book in two weeks (i have a LOT of free time till school starts) when my neighbor’s son came by with my bike. i giddily got up and ran over to it. the tire was fixed and full of air AND he had cleaned it! it was glorious! i thanked him again and again but he shyly said it was nothing and walked back across the street. i couldn’t wait to be back on the road. i got on my bike and was off.
i was riding and riding past fields of corn, past the browning sunflowers waiting for harvest, diligently trying to avoid all the broken glass. i was thinking of how i might be able so show gratitude to my neighbor when i rode past a pile of yellow squash, just on the side of the dirt road. i slammed on my breaks causing a cloud of brown dirt to release in the air, turned around just to make sure i wasn’t seeing things. and sure enough, there lay a dozen perfectly delicious looking yellow squashes. randomly there as though plopped down from the sky to the middle of nowhere. their golden skin glowed in the sun and beckoned me to take one. anticipating an angry farmer carrying a pitchfork charging at me for eyeing his golden prize. but i looked around, searching for someone, anyone, to whom these might belong. but i saw no one. i stood there, bike between my legs, for a while wondering what i should do. i really REALLY wanted one. i can’t remember the last time i had a vegetable that wasn’t canned or a tomato. i thought taking one and simply leaving a 5 hyrivna bill under another one, but realized that probably wouldn’t work because i had now way of taking one back without eeeeeveryone in my village noticing me biking around with a silly squash. i felt foolish for trying to think of how to ‘steal-but-not-really-steal’ squash (never thought i’d have an internal argument over that). so sadly and sans squash, i continued on biking.
….though, if they’re still there tomorrow i’m go back with my bag! hehe