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Head for the Woods, Russians

Published: August 20, 2014 (Issue # 1825)


: dense, virgin forest

Ah, August. August is usually thescary month inRussia, themonth when bad things happen, themonth ofmourning, themonth when political history is remade bytanks or peat fires. But this year, things have been so scary andso awful forso long, what difference could one month make?

-- (sound ofspitting over my shoulder three times toward off bad luck).

Since scary things will happen no matter what, it is much better tospend themonth out ofthe city heat, taking long walks inthe woods.

TheRussian language is rich onthe subject offorests. Thegeneric word fora forest is , but there are plenty ofmore specific terms. Forexample, you might choose theword todescribe adense, virgin forest if you know what avirgin forest looks like, that is. Themost famous one is , where theU.S.S.R. was officially dissolved, usually simply transliterated as Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Afew trees are called (grove, copse), andthe most famous kind inRussia is (birch grove). Astand ofpine trees is called (pine grove). InMoscow themost famous one is (literally, Silver Pine Grove).

Animpenetrable part ofthe forest is called (thicket), or (deep inthe forest): , (Through my binoculars I saw him come out ofthe thicket).

Andif its areally old forest that has miraculously been untouched bycivilization, it is (primeval or old-growth forest). This is also adescription ofsomeones unknowable soul, as expressed insaying ࠗ (literally, apersons soul is adeep forest).

Folks who know their forests might refer toeither (coniferous forest) or (deciduous forest). Forexample: , , , - (I dont mean that coniferous forests are worse, but aspen forests are lovely, too, when they seem tobe lit bypale green light). is black () fora reason all those leafy trees block thelight: , (When we went intothe broad-leafed forest, thetrain car went dark.)

Andfolks who can tell one tree fromanother might be very specific, if old-fashioned, when they talk about thewoods: (oak forest); (aspen forest); (elm forest); (linden forest); (fir forest); (cedar forest); (pine forest).

Not surprisingly, theforest figures inseveral common Russian expressions. Ҹ (a dark forest) is theEnglish speakers Its Greek tome something incomprehensible.

Andwhere there are forests, there are wolves. , (literally, if youre scared ofwolves, dont go intothe woods). Inother words, if you cant stand theheat, get out ofthe kitchen. , (literally, work isnt awolf that will run away inthe woods). That is tosay: Work isnt going anywhere (so have some fun). Andfinally: , (literally, no matter how much you feed awolf, he keeps looking atthe woods). Today this is usually abbreviated to toyearn forsomething better.

Like anice, dark, cool forest ona hot day.

Michele A. Berdy, aMoscow-based translator andinterpreter, is the author ofThe Russian Words Worth (Glas), acollection ofher columns.





 


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. Petersburgs 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 teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias 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 Centers 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 ones 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 mans 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 todays 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. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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