Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring ... maybe

Sitting in the kitchen one morning, drinking tea and trying to suffer my way through Oblomov, I heard music coming up through the floorboards as I had before, but this time, rather than the familiar slowly ascending and descending cords of the piano leading someone in their vocal warm-up, I heard an operetta. The wonderful cacophony seemed to be played on a Victrolla or record player of some sort, and my mind couldn’t help but wander.

The apartment building was constructed in 1965, just after Khrushchev’s era. The walls and floors are thin but often the building is silent except the occasional flush of water through pipes. Lately, though, a different tone seems to have taken over the building or maybe spring is opening my ears to a life outside my own. Whatever the case, I have begun to hear the sounds of remodeling and the music that comes up to the flat from below.

On this particular morning, my mind wandered to mid-1960s Soviet Russia. What was life like then? I imagined the apartment new, filled with bright smiling people, drinking tea or vodka, eating, and listening to the foreign operetta, and closing my eyes to try and imagine seeing it performed. The daydream didn't last long, Moscow has changed a lot since 1965. Outside I am reminded of that everywhere I look - Foreign franchised companies have taken up shop including McDonald’s and Colin’s Jeans, many sushi and other restaurants have sprung up in the last five years, and foreign goods and produce are in abundance.

The theme of change seems to be right in line with the season. I don't want to get my hopes up too high about spring being here just in time for my birthday, but I did see tulips and daffodils pushing their colored little blossoms out of the ground yesterday. There is still dirty ice/snow in piles around town, but overall the weather seems warmer, the sky is sunnier, and the birds are chirping. I will continue to listen and look for signs of spring, and hopefully my ears will remain open to the various sounds of life in a large apartment building.


  1. It's spring in Idaho! One minute sunny and trying to be warm...the next BLIZZARD!!!
    Then sun shining and snowing too!!!
    Home sweet home!;-)

  2. Spring sounds universal! Flowers and singing :) My students are all depressed because they had to return to school after spring break! Do Russians take a Spring Break?

  3. Yeah, spring is universally unpredictable :) Will it rain or snow or hail or be 90 degrees?! Most Russian students do have a spring break - and like the United States it now has been almost completely disassociated with Easter, so many of my students had their break at the end of March. Unfortunately, private language schools don't give a spring break, but May Day and Victory Day are coming up in May (both are government holidays!).