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Head for the Woods

Published: August 15, 2014 (Issue # 1824)


Ronald Saunders / Flickr

Пуща: dense, virgin forest

Ah, August. August is the usually the scary month in Russia, the month when Bad Things Happen, the month of mourning, the month when political history is remade by tanks or peat fires. But this year, things have been so scary and so awful for so long, what difference could one month make?

Тьфу-тьфу-тьфу (sound of spitting over my shoulder three times to ward off bad luck).

Since scary things will happen no matter what, it is much better to spend the month out of the city heat, taking long walks in the woods.

The Russian language is rich on the subject of forests. The generic word for a forest is лес, but there are plenty of more specific terms. For example, you might choose the word пуща to describe a dense, virgin forest — if you know what a virgin forest looks like, that is. The most famous one is Беловежская пуща, where the U.S.S.R. was officially dissolved, usually simply transliterated as Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

A few trees are called роща (grove, copse), and the most famous kind in Russia is берёзовая роща (birch grove). A stand of pine trees is called бор (pine grove).

An impenetrable part of the forest is called чаща (thicket), or чаща леса (deep in the forest): В бинокль я видел, как он выходил из чащи (Through my binoculars I saw him come out of the thicket).

And if it's a really old forest that has miraculously been untouched by civilization, it is дремучий лес (primeval or old-growth forest). This is also a description of someone's unknowable soul, as expressed in saying чужая душа — лес дремучий (literally, a person's soul is a deep forest).

Folks who know their forests might refer to either краснолесье (coniferous forest) or чернолесье (deciduous forest). For example: Я не хочу сказать, что краснолесье хуже, но красив и осиновый лес, как бы освещённый бледно-зелёным светом (I don't mean that coniferous forests are worse, but aspen forests are lovely, too, when they seem to be lit by pale green light). Чернолесье is black (чёрный) for a reason — all those leafy trees block the light: Когда заехали в чернолесье, потемнело в вагоне (When we went into the broad-leafed forest, the train car went dark.)

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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