A Peasant Woman and a Diver

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

What can be happened if you are not attentive to the algae blossom and have a problem to be undressed in a hot August day.

Submitted: January 04, 2018

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Submitted: January 04, 2018



The story I plan to tell you today happened many years ago in the vast meadow on the right floodplain side of the Volga River just opposite Samara, an industrial city situated on the left bank of the biggest European river. Volga here, in its middle flow through the Russian plains, makes a U-turn around Zhiguly Mountains washing the left shore and leaving the right one sloping, easy for spring flood water to cover many lakes and sloughs of this floodplain connecting them with the river for short period in May and June usually. Meadows are rich with grass and berries, lakes are full of fish that came here during high water.

It was an early morning in the middle of the August with the red sun rising in the sky, what is an obvious sign that another hot, windy and dusty day comes to Samara. I entered the office and met my colleagues discussing a very interesting and important subject – how to organize a birthday party for one of our fellow worker today. It was a usual Soviet practice that the birthday party took place in the office facilities. The discussion was in a progress and the boss had a good proposal that due to hot weather, absence of air-conditioning and non-working environment in the office as a result of this we could finish our job activities and start celebration at lunchtime.

“You see what the day is today again. All are tired of this scorching heat. I am not in a working mood myself and dream of refreshing. Let’s make it a beer party. What do you think?”

Of course the idea was supported enthusiastically. I decided to use this opportunity in full scale as for me it was a chance not to wait lunchtime but escape the office oven just this moment.

“Great! And I will go for crayfish! You know me. Four hours and I’ll be back with couple of buckets full of good beer snack!”

Yes, my friends, boss including, knew my ability of diving, snorkelling and underwater hunting. Crayfish boiled with parsley is the best snack for beer. At least this is what we like in Russia :) No doubts that my words were supported with exclamations of approval.

“Okay, let’s do this.” The boss put a period in the discussion.

I returned back on the started heating street and headed to the Lieutenant Schmidt landing where my motorboat was kept on a territory of the cargo ferry terminal. It was a pleasant walk through the shabby cottages settlement that had a strange but official name as the “Ravine of Political Underground Workers”. For more than a century this area was inhabited by worker families of the military plant opened here in the czarist time. Tangle of narrow and askew streets of the habitation was an ideal place for the underground revolutionists hiding. Most of the cottages, looking like huts now, were built in the very beginning, when the plant was opened and started developing. And the descendants of these workers still lived here keeping strong spirit not only of the freedom but criminality too. Many worker families moved to the apartment houses built for them by the plant. But people who kept freemen character and being native to Volga preferred to stay here in this ravine close to the river and their boats, owning small pieces of land, where they could put a kitchen garden and plant several fruit trees.

It took me twenty minutes to walk to the bank where my Kazanka motorboat was stored. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up jeans, pushed boat into water, used oars to sail to the open water, attached fuel hose to the Vikhr engine, dropped motor shaft into water, checked if the gears are in the neutral position, pumped some fuel into carburettor and pulled the starter rope. Motor sneezed but didn’t start. I winded rope on the flywheel back and yanked it again. This time engine cleared its throat shortly and began to work steadily at low revs. I took tiller by right hand, switched gears to drive position and turned gas handle on the tiller to add revs a little. Boat slid along the water. I directed it to fairway direction but being hundred meters offshore turned right and went in parallel to the bank heading to Polyana Frunze, a passenger terminal situated in the north-western part of the town.

On the way to Polyana I passed by city’s green zone with its picturesque landscape and unusual architecture of dacha houses. The summer camp of the Automatic System Design Bureau at Zumursky Founts was my destination point. It’s located at the end of the Vologhka branch just behind the Dirty Lake. Gliding along the water I looked at well-known for me from my childhood views of Gorky Park, Dacha with Elephants, ensemble of the Military Sanatorium buildings and other country houses of rich nobility and merchants of the pre-revolutionary Samara. They still are architectural pearls of the Samara’s views from Volga. And even miserable constructions of the Soviet era do not spoil good impression of the landscape.

Old fashioned wooden landing stage of Polyana Frunze terminal appeared on the traverse. It’s a place to turn left and cross the river. I checked fairway. No signs of speedy hydrofoils in view, what means that it can be crossed safely. I turned and headed to the passage between two islands on the other side where the entrance to Vologhka is located. Very soon the magnificent sandy beaches of the other side were seen in all details. It’s a perfect place for summer picnics and bathing. Not many people were here yet as ferry only started its work. I entered the passage, slowed a little to navigate between shallows and was at the entrance to the Vologhka branch soon, made right turn into it and, going north, passed by the entrance to the Gryaznoe Lake. Ten minutes more and I arrived to the Zumursky Founts.

Kazanka was pulled offshore in the usual place close to the boathouse shed where my diving equipment was stored. I came inside, opened locker and took my underwater hunting set: two pieces wetsuit, flippers, mask, snorkel and weight belt. A net for keeping caught crayfish while swimming and two big bags for their transportation home were found in the locker too. The stuff was stowed into backpack. I was ready for the mission.

It has to be said here that practically all of the soviet organizations, plants, design bureaus, research institutes and others, had recreational facilities available for free for the workers during their vacations. Zumursky Founts is an example of such recreational resort representing a settlement consisted of several dozens of cottages, canteen with three-meals a day for holidaymakers, club with dancing floor and ferryboat provided transportation to Polyana Frunze two times a day in the morning and the afternoon. A good gym, athletic fields and different equipment were presented for fitness exercises, soccer, volleyball, badminton, track and field and other sport activities. Two powerful motorboats of Amur class were moored here to be used for water-skiing. Dozens of rowing boats were kept nearby for those who liked to paddle in these picturesque waterways of the floodplain. If you are fun of fishing, berries or mushroom picking, the heavenly conditions for these activities were available here. And even simple bathing on the beaches, walking in the meadows and groves were very pleasant here, of course if you know how to protect yourself against attacks of mosquitoes and gadflies :)

Yes, even in a hot August day the shadow and still wet groves in this area were full of mosquitoes eager to drink some of your blood. Clouds of them start to swarm around you when you enter such place. That is what I met on the way to the tiny bay of the Sitovoe Lake. It was not bad at all while I walked by the path on the opened meadow, not much mosquitoes here. But when the trail dived into black poplar and willow grove they started to buzz around louder and louder making my pace faster and faster. Finally I ran through this dark, wet and smelling of fallen leaves tunnel of willow branches to the light that was seen in hundred meters ahead. Popped up from the branch tunnel I was in the grassland again. This place was a little bit higher than other meadows around and drier as a result. The grass was different here too, yarrow and tansy were in full blossom creating natural anti-mosquito odour, very effective and helpful in this time of the year.

Sighing with a relief being rid of these hordes of bloodsuckers I went a little bit further along the lake to the stand alone bush of dogrose, put the backpack under it, took out snorkelling stuff and started changing. Wetsuit pants were the first thing I put on. The shirt came then. It took me some efforts pulling hemline to get inside, but I made it. It was not comfortable at all to stay in the black rubber suit being exposed to the hot sun, therefore I quickly buckled weight-belt around my waist, put the net in it, took flippers, mask, snorkel and stepped into water. Flippers were put on. I swam a little off shore and being by chest in the water washed the mask and put it on the face. Snorkel mouthpiece was clenched by teeth. Everything was ready for the hunting.

I made several strokes, took a breath and dived. And only now I understood how stupid I was by paying no attention to the water before starting snorkelling. But I should do this. The water in Volga and its branches has a feature to blossom in the end of August usually. But it's only middle of the month! Why do we have this mess? I was really surprised. There were no sign of the blue-green algae bloom on the surface yet. But these tiny organisms were here, just half a meter deep and filling all water volume the deeper the denser. Two meters deep you can't see your outstretched hand. The hope to collect quickly couple buckets of crayfish evaporated.

However I still thought that two dozens at least could be caught and started to dive to the bottom trying to find them by touch. Knowing exactly the places that crayfish prefer to hide I checked the logs and snags shoving hands under them. This way I was exploring my hunting area and in thirty minutes had only three crayfish in the net. It became obvious that my hunting expedition failed. I continued ten minutes more, diving to several well-known for me snags, and finally finished these attempts to replenish the net.

Being on the bank I put my snorkelling stuff and weight-belt on the ground, took off the pants and started to draw off the shirt. It stuck. The stomach and low back were opened, but the chest didn't allow it to go further. The more I pulled it the better was understanding of my efforts uselessness. Gadflies used the opportunity to bite me when I was absolutely defenceless against them with my hands up pulling shirt's hem. Several more attempts and it became clear that I had to go to the camp for the help to be undressed.

I packed my jeans, t-shirt and snorkelling gears into backpack, put shoes on and being dressed only in the black rubber shirt wandered into camp direction. The sun fried land in full swing. The black rubber of the shirt functioned as a heat element to transfer solar energy to my body. I was sweating. And it looked like my sweat was a kind of tasty sauce for mosquitoes as they attacked me when I entered black-poplar grove. The bloodsuckers covered my bare legs and head. Waving by one empty hand I ran through the dark thicket to the light of the meadow ahead. It became a little bit easier on the opened road. But the sun continued to heat me and I started to prepare myself mentally for the one kilometre of sizzling-hot torture when the hope appeared on the road that lead from Vypolzovo to Zumursky Founts.

The hope had an image of a village woman and a girl. The couple, obviously being mother and daughter, were walked leisurely from the Vypolzovo village side to the camp. They looked like the angels sent to help me. I understood this same moment when I had an attentive look at the older one. The peasant lady was giantess, no less than two meters high and corresponding weight around ten poods (pood is a Russian weight measure equal to 16 kilograms). For sure this athletically looking person can pull this shirt off. The lady was dressed in a light and tight sarafan of very beautiful big chamomile flowers on the sky-blue background colour. The girl in contrast to mother was very miniature creature approximately six years old. She wore sarafan of same fabric, sewn, no doubts about that, from the flaps remaining after her mother's gown was tailored. Sarafans were very harmonic to the both ladies appearances. Mother and daughter were sky-blue-eyed as their sarafans and yellow-haired as the centres of the chamomiles on their sarafans.

I was a little bit confused thinking about introducing myself and asking for the help without scaring them. Yes, I looked weird staying in the middle of nowhere, wearing only black rubber shirt and looking pleady at the upcoming couple. What they could think about me? Why I am so strange dressed? What I am doing here at all? Obviously, it was not simple to explain my appearance here in such dress in a few words. But, when ladies approached me, I understood that there is no reason for me to afraid to scare them. The peasant lady was a type of Russian woman described by Nekrasov: “She stops a galloping horse, Comes into burning hut.” Nothing can scare her.

“Excuse me, ma'am. Could you please help me?” I addressed to the giantess when couple was fifteen meters distance from me.

“What happened?”

“I stuck in this swimming suit, could you please help me to pull it out. I can't do it myself.”

“Easy. Come closer.”

I approached them and continued. “It's not easy. I have to lean on your thighs while you pull the hem.”

“Okay. Let's do it or you will die in this rubber.”

I came closer, bent and leaned by both hands to her elephant thighs seemed being fleshy and chill in this hot summer day. Lady took the hem into her hands and started to pull it to herself. Same moment both of my hands plunged into fleshy thighs and found support on the bones inside. But the shirt didn't go further than my chest again.

“Pull it stronger, please! I told you it's not easy!” I encourage the lady.

She pulled it stronger and both of my legs came off the ground into the air. I saw like the girl jumped aside to see this funny picture in a better perspective.

“Stronger, please!” I begged.

The lady started to roll me from side to side trying to shake my body out of the suit. The girl was jumping around shouting something like “let's shake him stronger!” Obviously it was a great fun to watch her giant mom doing such amazing thing like shaking out a man from the rubber shirt. Her ringing laugh spread throughout the meadow. Finally the centrifugal force of my rolling body together with the pulling force applied by the lady did what we want to be done, the shirt skipped the chest and stopped on the neck.

My feet were on the ground again but my arms and head still were inside the shirt.

“Let's continue.” Lady proposed.

I imagined like she pull my head off together with the shirt and screamed. “Please, stop! I'll do it myself!”

The decapitation process was cancelled. I stepped aside, thanking my saviour again and again, waited while they decided that the fun has been ended and continued their journey. I took off the shirt and dressed in my civil clothes. In fifteen minutes I was in the camp, put my snorkelling gears into the locker and came to the guard hut knowing that it's possible to borrow a bunch of jerky fish, good snack for the beer too. And I was right, the fresh dried stock fish was taken from the wires on the attic and I headed to the boat for my return trip.

The way back to the office was a usual routine and I came to my job place just in time. The party was in its very beginning, beer poured in the mugs but the toast wasn't pronounced yet. Everybody were glad for the fish I brought. It looked like they forgot that the idea was to bring crayfish. And I kept mum about what happened that day in Zumursky Founts.


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