The Russians' very favorite thing is to have a second home somewhere in the countryside. Be it a villa or a hovel, they go there
|This is more like what our|
grandma's dacha was
To tell the truth, from what I remember about my grandmother and parents at the dacha, they worked like dogs trying to capture the above mentioned ease and relaxation! In the Soviet times, it was a rare person who owned an automobile, which meant that the dacha-goers had to take train out of the city (we lived in Moscow), then walk at least twenty to forty minutes, lugging with them food and treats for the kids. My mother used to tell us, how she had to literally threaten dad with bodily harm to make him go to dacha! We, the oblivious, ungrateful descendants, greedily awaited the stuff that parents brought. Every Saturday-Sunday, we'd watch out for their arrival. My four year old cousin always spotted them first. "Uncle Izya, uncle Izya, - !ABUZ!" - he would shout happily, pointing at the watermelon magically floating over the tea roses on the garden's fence (my dad was short, and the floating watermelon was all we could see over the fence). "Arbuz" is a Russian word for watermelon, and my cousin couldn't pronounce it very well.
The adults then would begin working in the garden, feeding the kids, taking us to the lake... until they could go back home and sigh nostalgically about the easy dacha living.
Still, something magical happened
there, helping frazzled citizens unwind and breathe deeply, feeling in their bones, how their worries were disappearing into nothingness.
For me that was long time ago. The reality has nothing to do anymore with the feeling that the word "dacha" evokes in my mind.
When I began having children, my parents moved to California to be near the grandkids. They had a small pension from the American government, - nothing much - but enough to make their life easy. They didn't have to work and neither did I. Most of the time, I took the baby carrier to their apartment (we lived in the same building) and spend a day there, cared for and in peace (until mom and I would have a fight). That was a real dacha now! We didn't have to hoe and dig or carry enormous parcels around! Granted, there was a lot of work with the kids and taking my parents to appointments or errands, but we were all wrapped up in a close, comfortable cocoon of our routine life, and it was a rude awakening every time I had to leave to go to my own home.
You see, my Japanese husband could not understand that, if you can have relaxed, restful moments in life, you should have them. He went to work every morning and came back to continue working in his home office, until he fell on the bed unconscious at night! He did not know any other way to live; he was driven by a need to assure that we will have an apartment and money for our lives and retirement. I didn't realize that. Even if I did - do you think, he would've adopted to the disparity of our lifestyles?
Over the years he gave up his attempts to galvanize me into more activity than I was prepared to accept. He still moves non-stop from morning to night, and I, even though my parents are gone and the charmed life is over, still seek that bone-deep easement of the tension and pleasure of the country-in-the-city existence.