Field Work

Spring has finally come to Armenia. Vardenis is getting up into the 10 Celsius (50 F) range every day now. The snow on the mountains is slowly being defeated by the sun. At this point the mountains look like those iced ginger cookies.

If only the mountains were as delicious as these bad boys

With the changing seasons comes an abundance of tasks. The Armenians are tending to their gardens, cleaning, and probably doing more stuff than I realize. I am helping a bit too all of a sudden. Yesterday Ev and I helped Ludmilla prepare her garden for the potato crop. There’s still a lot left to do, so we’ll be at it all week most likely. But today I had to decline because our whole office went to the camp building to plant trees.

After two days of digging, I can only see a shovel and a hole when I close my eyes. I actually like this kind of work, but if I had to do it every day I would sing another tune. There have been many thoughts during the hours of digging…

Industrial Revolution? Oh yeah!
I can’t really fathom what slavery must have been like
What’s it like to be a worm and suddenly have your house just devastated?
The soil here sure is rocky
How is that old woman/old man less tired than me?
Armenia is one big mountain with a fine dusting of topsoil

I enjoy this work because it’s tangible. You work days on a grant application and hear nothing back. You dig a hole and you have a nice hole.

It was also nice to spend the day with the Armenians I know. Today was not an official work day. It’s the Genocide Memorial Day, so everything is closed. I’ve been reading Black Dog of Fate, which is about an Armenian-American’s journey of discovery about his family’s past. The book has given me some perspective on the Genocide. As we rode to the camp today the cab was playing the saddest song on the radio – a lone Armenian woman singing a mysterious lyric-less melody in a minor key – while passing through impoverished villages. I was able to reflect a bit on what the day means to them.

All eyes will be on Obama later today. Sadly, I know he won’t say anything worthwhile. Volunteers will be left answering questions about why our country doesn’t recognize what was clearly a genocide. And Armenians will be left with the same bleeding hole in their hearts, longing for recognition and closure for one of the deadliest and cruel events in the history of the world.

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3 Responses to “Field Work”

  1. Peter Says:

    Kevin now you can say you have plow experience!

    I agree completely as someone who dug thousands of holes at the summer cemetery gig, it is damn hard, honest, and good work. Moving earth is tough stuff. No idea how countries built the infrastructure that they have today without the modern machines we’ve become accustomed to.

  2. icenugget Says:

    The Arsenal! I still remember how brown you were that summer when I came to visit.

  3. Peter Says:

    It’s basically my only proof that I don’t have to be pale.

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