Thursday, October 14, 2010
Visiting Villages #2 - Potato Picking
Visiting Villages #2 Potato Picking
It is Fall. The weather has gotten cooler and grayer, but it is not cold yet. In the villages, there is a flurry of activity. Just like squirrels before the winter, village folk are busy bringing in every harvest they have. In Bulgaria one of the harder harvests is picking potatoes. When we visited our friend, you could see people all thru the village walking around with large “dirty white” burlap, or multi-colored bags heading back to their homes one bag at a time to bring in the potatoes – or apples, or pears, or tomatoes, or…
As we were returning our walk in the woods, just outside of the village there was a group of people working hard in one of the potato fields. The views of the mountains from their potato field were beautiful. However, we doubt many of the workers took any time to “view the local scenery”. They were bent over pulling the potatoes out of the ground. We believe they knew there was heavy rain coming the next day, so there was some urgency to getting this done before the field turned into a muddy quagmire.
The village we were visiting is a “mixed religion” town. There are many Muslims, and also many Christians. The younger generations of both religions are not practicing either. But they all work together. In this field there were two Muslim women in traditional “work garb”, and several other women and girls in western clothes. (Lynn took note that there were NO men working in this field!) What you are wearing has nothing to do with the work which must be done.
And the work is similar to what has been done for ages. No matter how you bring “up the potatoes”, you still have to bend over, pick them out, clean the dirt from them, put them into buckets, and then into bags for transporting. Sometimes there is a small tractor with a special equipment to turn the soil, and bring the potatoes up toward the top. Other times, it is just lots of digging with a pitch fork. The hardest method is to use a big type of hoe to “pound the dirt”, and turn over the soil. That is what they were doing in this field. But, whatever method you use, you have to be careful not to damage the “tubers”.
We stopped to watch this activity, and take some pictures. Our walking path was quite a ways from the work field, but it was still easy to see the activity. However, we did not stay long. Our fellow volunteer is known by everyone in the town. We had already gotten about 6 pounds of fruit from other villagers picking berries just before we reached the potato field. We did not want to be given 20 more pounds of potatoes to take on the 5 hour ride back to Plovdiv. Even though we were tired from our long hike, there was a small part of me, which would have liked to help in the field, and bring some of the potatoes home. Maybe that is just part of my Irish “potato” ancestry pushing up to the top.
Thanks for reading