Looking out of the window this morning, there was a typical summer Sunday view of Burgas – a family „armed” with towels and beach umbrellas marching down the path to the beach. One family, another, older couples, youngsters. And a typical day of „an average Latvia Soviet Republic family” flashed in my memory… The one about a Sunday morning when all the family members also gathered together, just the direction chosen was different. Not the beach, neither shopping malls (we simply didn’ t have them back then) but gardens.
Imagine those allotment cooperatives where each family had their own patch with either just a shack to keep the gardenings tools at or a small house with one room in it to shelter from the rain. By the way, there were no all those competitions like the ones today – „ The nicest garden” or „The best garden design” etc. None. People were simply figuring out how not to plant potatoes in the same place for many years in a row, how to „fit” in not just carrots, onions, cucumbers, red beets, beans, strawberries and some other berry bushes but also flowers. To have something for one’ s eyes and soul, not just stomach. Labyrinths of beds that had to be kept nice and clean from weeds. And not just for the harvest in autumn to be better but also because it was the duty of every good Soviet family – to keep their garden clean.
Let me be honest – I hated it! From the bottom of my heart I hated the never – ending weeding that turned into harvesting in the very end of summer/early autumn. With picking berries in between those 2 important seasons, calming nerves down during the winter and in late spring – all over again. So…yes, my summer weekends were also „connected” very much to being outside and sunbathing, just not exactly lying in the sand on the beach. The key – word was weeding. My parents still remember my humming of what was the chorus from „Sunshine Reggae” (the one by Laid Back) over and over again coming from the other end of the allotment (yes, one of the things I liked to do alone since it was always a touch easier to be angry in solitude). All the way through my school years. And just to „know” the difference between the short and long distance „weeding race” one summer my parents decided to take on weeding of a 1 ha(about 2.47 acres) beet plantation… With good intentions in mind, of course – to get a certain ammount of sugar in autumn from the kolhoz (collective farm) those fields belonged to. You know the expression about the road to hell being covered with good intentions, don’t you? My memories from that summer are very clear up to this day – infinite lines of green tops of beets and the day when a cow was killed near the field by the lightening during the storm.
There’ s no bitterness in those memories, not even a single drop. Neither an opinion that grass was greener back then. Just…if somebody in a vegetable stand starts to explain to me „the road this potatoe has made from the field to the market”, I know exactly what he means. What…makes the price. And the fragrance of summers in my parents’ allotment.
P.S: I am a „proud owner” of an appartment in a block – building back in Riga therefore planting, weeding and harvesting hasn’ t been a part of my daily – routine for quite some years. Though when my friend bought a house and announced to her mother and mother – in – law that she is ready for a nice lawn and a couple of flowers but NOTHING MORE yet , I got her. Completely.