http://www.flickr.com/photos/cykuck/7112702/ If you've ever doubted resurrection, spend a winter in Lithuania. Snow on the ground now for five months. When it's not snowing its gray. When its not gray its too cold to stay outside. My first year here I was sure I was dying by this time in March. I'd never seen my face so pale. I got so thin. During spring break that year I watched Gintaras and Lili's kids cause they had to be out of town for the week. So with no work and nothing to really occupy my time I hung out with the boys in a region of Kupiskis everyone calls Kamchatka. The Kamchatka of Kupiskis is a Soviet style region made up of gray blockhouses and a great big smoke stack. Not such a bad place really, but with five months of winter already under my belt, I was under serious strain. What had looked like a planned community in workers paradise that Fall, by late March looked like a leaden demon ship lost from the inferno on its way through a frozen southern ocean to sink somewhere silent and painful. My face was plastered to the kitchen porthole, by the second day the boys were taking care of me. I fell asleep on the couch in the afternoon and when I woke up Gintaras' younger son was looking at me from a couple feet away. 'Your eyes are red like a rabbits' he said. They stayed like that for another month. I couldn't stop looking out the window. I kept thinking that it should have already ended, but it was still gray and cold. On Easter I was with Gintaras and family on their farmhouse about 10km out of town. No sounds. Just us and the babble of a little tiny T.V. This was even worse than the demon ship. It was a demon dinghy lost from the ship, white knuckles and icy waves. It started to snow and I started to pace. Gintaras asked me repeatedly if I wanted something to eat or drink. A bare light bulb hung from the ceiling over the table spitting spindly anemic glare all around the room. Musty damp wood, small windows bleeding weak light and yeah I'm being dramatic about it, but I'd never witnesses my own decay before. It snowed two feet, and I went out of my tree. The next day was Easter and the boys and I ran around outside making big snowballs. We kung fu kicked, karate chopped and body slammed each of them to bits. In my heart I was cursing that frozen white fluff from hell that had been smothering me for half the year with great might. The bashing of the snowballs was very very violent and highly visual. I'm sorry that Pagan blows were delivered on that Christian day, but lost souls will do what they must. Then it snowed the rest of the day.
All of that internal drama happened before I learned about spring. I'd been in San Diego for seven years before I came over here. Spring in San Diego means you change wetsuits. You go from the one with long legs, to the one with short legs.
There is a single tree in the middle of a big field on the way to Kamchatka. It was along my familiar path to visit Gintaras. On a dreary day in April I passed under that thing and noticed that the branches were well covered with unbloomed buds and I almost wept. Seriously, it was the most beautiful thing I'd seen in months. It was really over. The great cosmic machine wasn't broken after all, and after just a few weeks this whole country exploded in tender tones of green. Then cabin fever yielded and was immediately replaced with Spring fever. All the meters spiked. High energy and libido are not the traditional allies of young single male teachers. The rest of the school year I spent tied to the mast, and thankfully remained there till summer.
These days are completely different. I'm a little sad to see winter go cause I know this means I have to return to the States soon. The novel days will give way to normalcy, and at first I'll resent that, then it'll lull me in. I'll wake up sometime next year very happy to be home, but it'll take a while. In the meantime, I have a lot to do.
This week I'm going up to Kupiskis and Skapiskis and hopefully I'll get a bunch done. The newspapers just released 'the list' from Israel made by the Litvaks there who want their property returned. There are three places in Kupiskis on it, they look like the addresses of private homes, so I wanna go see who's there. I doubt they'll talk to me about it but I'll try anyway. I'm also trying to Interview Kristina's Grandmother who witnessed the murder of the Jews in Kupiskis as a little girl. Then there is Sandra who has all the writing and recordings her Grandfather made during fifteen years in Siberia. And lastly, everything in Skapiskis remains to be done. I have to find the mayor(s) and talk to them about the cemetery project and I also want to get some shots of the cemetery before the snow is completely gone. Beauty the car, has been rolled off the front sidewalk and towed to the shop. They're putting a new starter in it, so I should have wheels to roll around Spring in.