Tolstoy on a Late Spring

“Spring was a long time unfolding. During the last weeks of Lent the weather was clear and frosty. In the daytime it thawed in the sun, but at night it went down to seven below; there was such a crust that carts could go over it where there was no road. There was still snow at Easter. Then suddenly, on Easter Monday, a warm wind began to blow, dark clouds gathered, and for three days and three nights warm, heavy rain poured down. On Thursday the wind dropped, and a think grey mist gathered, as if concealing the mysteries of the changes taking lace in nature. Under the mist waters flowed, ice blocks cracked and moved off, the muddy, foaming streams ran quicker, and on the eve of Krasnaya Gorga the mist scattered, the dark clouds broke up into fleecy white ones, the sky cleared, and real spring unfolded.

“In the morning the bright sun rose and quickly ate up the thin ice covering the water, and the warm air was all atremble, filled with the vapours of the reviving earth. The old grass and the sprouting needles of new grass greened, the buds on the guelder-rose, the currants and the sticky, spiritous birches swelled, and on the willow, all sprinkled with golden catkins, the flitting, newly-hatched bee buzzed. Invisible larks poured trills over the velvety green fields and the ice-covered stubble, the peewit wept over the hollows and marshes still filled with brown water; high up the cranes and geese flew with their spring honking. Cattle, patchy, moulted in all but a few places, lowed over the meadows, bow-legged lambs played around their bleating, shedding mothers, fleet-footed children ran over the drying paths covered with the prints of bare feet, the merry voices of women with their linen chattered by the pond, and from the yards came the knock of the peasants’ axes, repairing ploughs and harrows. The real spring had come.”

Anna Karenina, Part 2, Chapter XII
(Pevear and Volokhonsky trans.)
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Just thinking, on this wet, story, early spring day – one of many wet, stormy days lately – that is will be nice when the California spring finally gets here.

And, for the curious, in Russian popular tradition Krasna Gorka is the Tuesday following St. Thomas’s Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter). It is a day to commemorate the dead.

 

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