Middens to mechanization: technology and culture.
The medieval hay landscapes of Maramureş are glorious relics, preserved and annually renewed by the hands and muscles of local farm families. The repetitive intensity of the work required, mowing, drying and stacking the hay with wooden tools, and transferring it successively with poles and wagons and sleds from fields to stacks and farmsteads, is unlikely to survive the temptations of labor-saving technology. Already the signs of cultural transition are evident: satellite dishes share wooden balconies with drying vegetables; washing machines save women from bitter visits to the traditional wooden whirl-pools in icy winter rivers; in-house plumbing may soon subvert the ubiquitous out-houses near the cowsheds; and middens in which human and animal waste are mixed may not survive international regulations, if and when Romania joins Europe.
Haysleds and middens.
Maramureş farm food.
Cultural transitions: bodies on wagons and on the ground.
Hay dolls and uncut grass around the plum-trees.
In the field surrounding the the country headquarters of the IUGA Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of rural traditions and decorated with dolls of twisted hay, we saw and heard the successor to the scythe cut down the grass and flowers far more rapidly and far more noisily than the latter ancient tool. Labor is saved, and the sweet song of the scythe drowned out by the new device. Above its racket, serving us hay-tea on the balcony of the wooden house, Anamaria observed that it was incapable of mowing around the plum trees’ trunks, where a fringe of uncut, wasted grass would reveal the evidence of progress.