Friday, April 25, 2014

Ukrainian Spring

Spring is nature's prescription for depression and right now Ukraine is the ideal patient. Neon-green leaves and long sunny days are coaxing people outside and bringing smiles to their faces. Winter remains only for all those poor babies; it's 70F outside and they're still toddling around in snowsuits and warm winter hats... they're got to wait for summer, I guess, but the rest of us can shed our hats and jackets and enjoy the spring!

After an earlier aborted attempt at a weekend picnic (rain, ugh), a friend and I joined a well-organized and well-attended farewell picnic on Monday. I'm a definite city girl, yet it was refreshing to escape into nature for a few hours.

The picnic served as an awesome meet-and-greet; there were Ukrainian / Indian / Canadian students, a young university professor, a volunteer from Portugal, a traveling American, and the guy who organizes the local language exchange club.

Also, it was an excuse to drink wine around noon- hooray!- and take a ride on the tram with other early afternoon drinkers.

See the guy with the bottle of beer?

And then, a few days later, this undeniable sign of spring appeared-

My language exchange buddy Max and I were driving along the river when he spotted this mix of people and flowers. Some people were picking out plants to take home but most just wandered though the rows with camera in hand.

Wild colors and patterns were everywhere.

The air smelled soooo good!

These experiences opened my eyes to the little changes that are everywhere-
The park benches have been brought out at the train station.
Spring fashions are artfully arranged in window displays. 
The second set of doors have been removed from some of the metros.
I'm hoping that soon the city's fountains will be turned on.

Meanwhile, the May holidays are coming up. This is usually a huge occasion; last year the government offered its employees nine days off. This year, though, who knows. And in past years everyone would proudly be wearing little black-and-orange ribbons on Victory Day (May 9th) but now those colors have been hijacked to represent another cause. It sounds like the V-Day celebrations are going ahead, at least according to this news website- parades, war veterans in full regalia, fireworks, combat vehicles on display, even eight aircraft that are scheduled to fly by and leave a yellow and blue smoke trail in the sky. The city's website confirms this, saying there are 65 events scheduled to celebrate the 69th anniversary of WWII victory.

All the people I've talked to predict the holidays will be calm and pleasant, perfect for more picnics.

As Tolstoy wrote: Весна – время планов и предположений, Spring is the time of plans and projects.
What are your plans and projects for the season?


  1. A superb post, conveying the reality of life in Kharkiv this week or so :-)

    Re-posted: then subsequently out to the twitterverse.

    Have a good weekend.

    1. Thanks for the shares, Rupert! Have a great weekend too : )

  2. It looks so gorgeous there. And the poor little kids. I remember I'd be frolicking around Moscow in just a cardigan the kids would still be like little starfish in their snowsuits!

    1. As they probably still are! It's only May, after all :P