October 27, 2006

Maramureş 3. September's second cut.

A sunny Septemberís second cut.

Most of the hay in this region, as in most of the northern hemisphere, is made in June and July, after the melted snow and spring rains have grown grass and flowers to a suitable height. In some years, given enough summer rains and September sun, there is time for a second cut. Fortunately for us, in 2006, August was very wet, and our visit the following month coincided with brilliant sunshine. So we were able not simply to gaze on grand scenery of serenely static stacks, but to participate in the activity of haymaking, witnessing the prehistoric process in all its phases, the shaping of an ephemeral landscape and its temporary structures, and the application of ancient tools by people who seemed not just to tolerate our enthusiasm but to welcome it.
Stacks and apples, Şurdeşti, 2006.Stacks and haycocks near Breb, 2006. Stacks and haycocks near Breb, 2006.

Stack and hayrack, Danesti, 2006.Stacks and haycocks near Breb, 2006. Stacks and haycocks near Breb, 2006.

Stick figures in the hayscape: what Romanians call germans.
Ana informed us that the skinny humanoid stacks that seem to march across the fields are called "germans." My Romanian dictionary indicates that the Romanian for German is indeed German!
Germans near Breb, 2006.Germans near Breb, 2006. Romanian and german near Breb, 2006.

At dawn on the first morning of our visit to Surdesti, we heard, rising from the orchard beyond our window, the rhythmic swish of scythe against grass and the distinctive song of the honing stone. I stared down from our balcony, and the mower paused to stare back up at me, before reaching his blade under branches bent almost to the ground by their burden of plums.
Scyther, Şurdeşti, 2006.Scythers, Şurdeşti, 2006. Scything under a plum tree, Şurdeşti, 2006.

The sun rose, crossing a clear blue sky in its autumnal arc, casting a golden light, enough warmth to dry the grass, and enough shadows to give definition to the drama of the work. Our stay coincided perfectly with this brilliant haying weather, and clouds did not return until the day we left.
Tedding near Breb, 2006.Making tall Germans, Surdesti, 2006. Making tall Germans, Surdesti, 2006.

Posted by Alan Ritch at October 27, 2006 02:02 PM