Thursday, June 25, 2009

Overwhelming generosity

A few days ago on one of my morning bike rides, I discovered a little community of dachas outside of Minsk, near the village of Zatsan. I stopped to take some pictures of the gardens around me, and I introduced myself to a couple of people on their way to one of the nearby dachas. Anna and Vanya invited me into their yard and ended up sending me home with a lot of dill, crisp radishes, and some green onion. Grateful, I returned this morning to give them a little gift.

As I leaned over the fence, debating whether to enter the yard and leave my gift on their porch or to leave my gift hung on the gate, Vanya came out in shirt and underwear to greet me. Excited by my little gift, he pulled me into his yard and asked me if I wouldn't take something else from his garden. I declined, but he really wanted me to take some more dill when I told him how much we had enjoyed the previous dill in borsch soup. So I said "just a little."

Before he harvested any borsch, however, he wanted me to see his garlic plants. He was unsatisfied that they weren't as big as he would have liked, but they were actually quite tall. He pulled one from the ground and asked me to wash it off for Alla. As I did, he asked me if I wanted another. I demurred, but he felt that no less than three would make any sense at all and he gave me two more. Then he harvested a bunch of green onions. Then he went to get the dill that started it all. He harvested a big handfull. I tried to stop him there, but suddenly he became crazed and whacked down almost an entire row.

I managed to get it all home. I don't know what to do next. I think any reciprocation must happen in the dead of night or away from their dacha. Alla is very excited about the variety of garlic he gave us, which is rare anyway and apparently unusually large.

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