Visiting Babushka
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Visiting Family Village Life

Babushki

I often took a walk through the small village where we stayed with Tamara's grandmother (babushka) and her mom. Sean was the perfect goodwill ambassador and helped break down the language barrier admirably. Everyone here speaks Ukrainian, though they can certainly understand my halting Russian, and I could make out most of what they were saying.

In this village of maybe a hundred or so inhabitants there are barely any young people left. So, you can imagine the delight of the many babushkas we ran across in our walks to encounter Seanushka. Sean was not at all shy to run into people's yards to investigate a barking dog or a flock of turkeys. He'd often greet older women with a big hug and smile. What a great opportunity to make a few new friends.

In the village, life is quite different than in Kyiv. Amenities that most folks take for granted are primitive or don't exist. All the houses in Viktorovka have gas and electricity, but I think none have running water or an indoor toilet. Subsistence farming is the main activity. Most households have one or more cows, chickens, rabbits and about 5 to 10 acres on which to grow crops. Everything is planted right up to the house, there is no yard area to speak of. Drinking water comes from open, lined wells. At this well they use a counterweight to lift the bucket. Myself, I didn't mind any of the conditions, I was very happy to have time in the wide open spaces and lots of home-cooked meals, including fresh raw milk for my coffee. Well
Lavochka In nearly all villages, the arrangment of houses is along one main street or road. Everyone has a fenced yard to keep in the livestock and by the gate there is always a homebuilt "lavochka", a bench, a place to sit and watch the goings on or goings by on the road. This time of year work slows down and there are always plenty of folks on the lavochka to visit with. This woman's name is Gala and she and I hit it off right away. We introduced ourselves to each other when Sean came to her gate, intensely interested in her small white goat, named Belushka. I think it was the first goat Sean had seen, at least up close. We had a very nice chat and told us to come back soon. She remembered Tamara and was anxious for her to visit, so the next day I brought my wife along. Here she and Sean are sitting on the lavochka, Sean holding a chicken and we're enjoying a fresh batch of semichki (roasted squash seeds).