Sunday, August 28, 2011

Celebrating Independence Day in Poltava, Ukraine

Recently it was Independence Day here in Ukraine where I have lived for the past 16 months.    Ukraine was celebrating their 20th year of independence.   All the museums were open and free and there was a free concert in the park where the flowers gardens were ablaze with color. Nature is abundant in Poltava and honored by blue and yellow on the Ukrainian flag which represents blue skies over golden wheat fields  It’s amazing how lush and thick the vegetation is and I am told it flourishes because of the rich black earth.  . 

Apricot, pear, and apple trees are everywhere.  Right now the walnut trees are laden with walnuts.  It reminds me of when I was a child and in the fall we would go into the forest to collect walnuts then we would all sit around and hull them for my grandmother to store for the winter.   We are coming into harvest time here in Ukraine and people come back from the villages with buckets of fresh vegetables to sell at the market or display for sale along the sidewalk.  The weather is now cool and leaves have already begun to turn brownish yellow.  I noticed shriveled dried leaves floating softly to the ground as I walked along the cobble stone street.  Summer is fast fading as is the sunlight.  Summer is celebrated and treasured here in Poltava since the winter skies are gray and void of sunshine. 

After the concert which included singing and poetry in the park, I wandered the cobble stone walking street with a few Ukrainian friends.  Craft tables were filled with beautiful traditional weavings, dolls, embroidered shirts and handcrafted housewares.  The beadwork caught my eye as I love beading.  Trees and flowers made with the tinest shiny beads and exquisitely beaded necklaces filled a table as the artist described how she created them.   Of course, I didn’t have my camera.   I vowed not go anywhere without my camera again. 
The reopening celebration of the Gogol Theater offered free performances throughout the day.  The theater has been closed for 2 years while it was being refurbished.   It's grace and elegance reminds one of times past.    Even though the theater has been closed the actors and actresses have continued rehearsing.  Today we were the lucky ones—the grand reopening treated us all to tour of the newly refurbished theater and a series of very entertaining and well performed short skits.  Everyone was laughing.  I knew it was funny and laughter is catchy that I laughed right along with everyone--but with my extremely limited Russian I actually only caught a few words here and there.  After sharing vareniki and galuska at the Retro I headed for my flat.  Later that evening I could hear the popping and cracking of fireworks exploding from Victory Park signally the end of the 20th year of independence and a warm welcome to the beginning of the 21st  year.  Congratulations Ukraine. 


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