Walking around Podosonovo is similar to what I remember Enoch being like – wide-open, peaceful and filled with the expectancy of busyness. Everyone here in Pod has a vegetable garden and at least a few farm animals – it's probably what Cedar City was like when my father was growing up. Some of the highlights for me are the constant exclamations of roosters, punctuating the moment like church bells do in European cities; the smells&sounds of the farm animals and the rituals that develop around caring for them; the general spirit of productiveness and self-sufficiency which is evidenced more as the weather warms and people start spending more time in their fields preparing them for planting; and even dodging the cow dung (instead of dog dump as in NYC) as we walk about.
Because this is a community established by Russian-Germans, and the county or rayon itself has significant German government involvement, there are a lot of German influences here (which is a part of what Nathan is looking at). The school aesthetic reminded me very much of this influence as we toured it on our first day and were shown room after room of decorative old-world-euro craftiness – marionettes and elaborate puppets with a theatre, paper mache animal helmets and all sorts of homemade, imaginary play, folk-art things. Ahhh. . . it was like stepping back into your ideal of what an early-twentieth century European childhood must have been like. Disney-fied even. I suppose Walt got some things right. It all looked like something he'd conjured up in _Pinocchio_ (minus the dark, child snapper elements). There was also a large science room and music room/gymnasium. There is a little museum that a bunch of German grandmas put together depicting German interiors and children's rooms from their decade – it all looked so picturesque-Bavarian. There was a German language instruction room with all these cute little chairs arranged in a circle with crocheted mats on each them. Ahhhh. . . on&on&on. The children are so polite. On our first morning, as we sat out in the hall listening to ourbabes sound out their objections to being left in school, and each child who passed by us greeted us courteously. It was so cute.
In the classroom, much is similar to others I've seen the U.S., where they are organized into little play sections and tables. The bonus is the little room off of the main room which has about 10 cozy, clean, little beds for naptime. It made me think of the boarding room scenes from the French children's story _Madeline_. This school is a bit of a boarding school as it's running from 8am-6pm.
All the children eat breakfast, lunch and a dinner snack in their classrooms and there is a little cupboard that holds all the dishes (porcelain!) and utensils for each student. The food is brought into each class 3-times a day by bundled up women coming in from the outside – we also witnessed this on our first day at breakfast time: each woman carried a tea kettle, bread wrapped in a cloth, a dish of preserves and an old metal bucket which perhaps contained hot cereal (gruel!) Its little details like this that send me into complete ecstasies of appreciation for the variations in living and doing. It all felt so dated and pastoral and charming and I loved it!!!
Another detail which I totally appreciate is the necessary changing of ones wardrobe. There are shoes which each child should bring that are only worn inside (this goes for adults too). We had to go out and buy D&Z special shoes/slippers for school. Also, an extra set of clothes needs to be available and each child must decide which set is for indoors and which is for outdoors. They must change their clothes several times: when arriving at school to put on their inside clothes; when going out for morning recess (weather permitting); when returning from morning recess; for naptime (removing everything but undies); after naptime, putting clothes back on; and when going out for afternoon recess, which at this point is pickup time for most kids and so they stay outside till each kid has been fetched (which could be a couple of hours). I institute similar clothing changes at home and appreciate the level of control they've taken on at such a massive scale. Other little bits of detail in organization are the decals on each child's locker (Desi's are balloons) which correspond to the decal on their beds and the towels on hooks in the bathroom.
Y-ly was here and he loves Russia!