Notes From Hairenik
November 16, 2006

The strange time of year has come once again, the time when uncertainty and sometimes extreme, sudden climate changes take form. Mid-November in Armenia is usually the period when you don’t necessarily know how you should dress to leave the house each day, and what you will come up against once you get out. The weather is crisp but not so cold so that you will have tiny icicles hanging from the tip of your nose a few minutes after walking around in the open air. This year the outside temperature did not fall below 70 degrees F. until about a week ago, when it unexpectedly dipped into the 40s. I can’t decide if it’s time to dig out the wool sweaters or not, assuming that I can even find the place where my wife packed them away. She’s gone off to India of all places on work-related business.

There are no notable holidays to speak of in Armenia during this month. Americans have Thanksgiving to look forward to in another week, while Armenians wait until December 31 to start partying for just about a week straight. In another month most people will be running around trying to stock up on snacks, candies, fruits, and hams to prepare for the holiday festivities. Republic Square will be overrun by drunk men in cheap red suits and faux white beards pretending to bring joy to the endless tykes that stop by to say hi. And although the weather has become more mild and tolerable in the last couple of days, the cafés for the most part are all shut down for the winter, thus you can’t sit outside anywhere for a cup of coffee and instead have to dwell in some ground-floor unventilated establishment filled with cigarette smoke. If only the by-product dust from the mass construction as well as the endless pounding of hammers would die down during this time….

November has always been a strange month for me, and I can’t necessarily clearly explain why. First I always find myself in a bit of shock that the year seemingly went by so quickly. Then I am startled that a new year is just around the corner, and that the decade that seems like had just begun is now winding down. I am also in denial about the oncoming of winter until at least the beginning of December, so I refrain from putting on the electric heaters until then, convincing myself that it is not so cold even if it is getting chilly in the house. You see, it’s not necessarily autumn, although technically it is, but it also depends on where you are. In Vanadzor for instance it is safe to say that winter has arrived there, as they already had their first frost weeks ago, and it was absolutely frigid when I visited last weekend. In other words, I find myself asking how it can be autumn if I am already shivering as if three feet of snow were on the ground? Mount Aragats is already covered in snow—how is that possible in the fall? And why is there fresh-sprouted greenery all over the countryside as if spring has just arrived? It’s a perplexing time. I suppose in a couple of weeks I won’t need to worry about it anymore.

Photo courtesy Tigran Nazaryan Copyright © 2006


Anonymous Knarik O. Meneshian said...
Perhaps this reflective time of year is meant to be enjoyed—the rustling leaves still crunching under foot; the splashes of green still brightening the countryside; the chill in the air that makes one think, at times, of a cup of steaming hot tea, coffee, cocoa, or even a bowl of khash or borsch; the excitement, the preparations, the promises made for the coming New Year—culminating with the Season of Doves and Roses that is Christmas.