Saturday, June 30, 2012

River Picnic

We spent a long and glorious afternoon picnicking by the river today!

Shortly after one PM, D and I hopped on a marshrutka and headed out to Timur's place. Timur, Yulia, and daughter Alina met us at the marshrutka stop. The day was ideal: warm, slightly windy. The clouds were puffy white creatures swimming across the sky.
Our trio of friends led us on a hike along the railroad tracks, under a bridge, and through fields until we reached a green and shady spot, deserted except for a quintet of ducks perched on a log. 

It was a beautiful chance to capture more flowers of summer.

And, of course, the spread:

Let the record stand that the red wine- кагор український from Inkerman (Crimea)- is excellent. I don't care much for red wine but if that's what dessert wine tastes like, sign me up! We forgot to bring a bottle opener so nature assisted: Timur used a stick to push the cork down into the bottle. Nature also graciously provided us with an instant wine cooler (see pic on right).

At the beginning Yulia and I set out the blankets while the guys chopped branches and started a fire. Alina immediately jumped in the water and started splashing around. It wasn't until after several plates of закуски (appetizers) and several toasts that we actually begin to cook the shish kebab.

As a bonus, being around Russian speakers meant that today was a language immersion day. Yulia is probably my favorite person to talk to in Russian. She speaks quickly but very clearly and she can always explain things in a way that I understand. Some new words:
Облако = nice pretty cloud, the kind floating around at the beginning of the picnic
Туча = rain cloud, which came and sprinkled us briefly before rushing off to rain elsewhere
Шампур = skewer for shish kebab (шашлик)

This toad was hanging around us all day. And the word for toad is almost too good to be true: it's pronounced zhaba, almost like Jabba the Hutt! (Yeah, I know, it's more a frog than a toad... but everyone was calling it жаба.)

That's the way I learn Russian, by collecting new nouns (and sometimes adjectives) as if they were jewelry: Ooh, this one looks cool or I already have the perfect place for that one! Then I mix and match those new words with the verbs that I already know. The verbs are more difficult to learn- each one has so many conjugations and usually a perfective and imperfective form. I don't know as many verbs as I do other parts of speech. Sentences like "as a rule, the Russian verb may be said to have two stems: the non-past stem for non-past forms and the past stem for the infinitive and past tense forms" are so painful that I shy away from studying verbs. They're also harder to pick up via conversation... I can understand the context without exactly knowing the verb, so my mind skips over the verb instead of isolating it and memorizing it for future use. And let's not forget- in the grand scheme of things verbs are pretty easy to charade in front of a cashier :p

Anyways, in between rounds of шашлик there was swimming and cannonballs
 (guys + Alina) and mud-scrubbing (yours truly + Alina).

We stuck around until the sun was truly hidden behind the clouds and the chill drove us home.
A field that was really fun to walk through
Storm cloud passing by. We could hear lots of thunder.
If I were a frog then this would be home!
Time to head out


  1. I'm glad you liked it there! :)

  2. That's the sort of former Soviet Union day that is just perfect - and the kind of thing I miss terribly.

    1. Yeah, the summer here is great- definitely makes up for the winter!

  3. Nice to get out of the hot asphalt for some relaxation....

  4. Awesome pics! I loved seeing your picnic spread. The bit about the toad/"Jabba" is too funny!

  5. Katherine, your sentence about "more nouns and less adjectives" reminded me a similar but opposite linguistic detail related to one of your past trips.

    Once I've read in a linguistic book that indigenious Yakut people have an interesting habit for their own language use. Their girls till some teen age are not allowed to use nouns at all, only adjectives! This was explained as a way to form their poetic talking habit or alike.