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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

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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