Ukrainians gathered in the open-air museum of Pirogovo on July 6 to celebrate Ivana Kupala, an ancient summer holiday. Guests jumped over the fires, sang and danced to folk tunes. Young gils made flower wreaths and floated them in the water hoping to find a soulmate. (Olga Novak)
Seven years have passed since I first visited Pyrogovo. So much has changed in my life and at Pyrogovo. The lady I came to Kyiv to meet in 2003, we have been walking hand in hand as man and wife, living in Kyiv and enjoying our life’s second adventure for the past 6 years.
Over the Victory Day Weekend 2010 we visited Pyrogovo twice. To me the museum felt like it had lost its majestic spirit that left me spellbound and in awe of what a treasure Ukrainians possessed in Pyrogovo. I am enthralled every time I see a windmill. They too seemed lost. Perhaps it was the robbery and fire back in 2006 that caused the place to seem melancholy and all the historic buildings I first stop to admire were all closed.
Just to enter and leave the museum was quite chaotic because of the volume of cars and parking problems that weren’t there in 2003. Nonetheless, thousands of people came to attend the traditional Folk Artisans Spring Fair and many came to enjoy picnicking with family and friends.
On this particular weekend we came seeking new Ukrainian artisans’ products to buy and promote their talents on our E-Commerce website and discover unique items to sell during Christmas Markets in Denver and Philadelphia in America. We left with some wonderful treasures and possibilities to explore for the future.
Tapestry artisan Yevgen Pilyugin was one of our new acquaintances. He produces unique rugs inspired by Ukrainian landscapes, from his own imagination, or his customers’ designs. He told us he had created a rug for an Arabian sheikh who ordered it for his birthday and received excellent feedback. His rugs also decorate the Residences of Ukrainian Presidents, and one hangs in the Pope’s residence in the Vatican.
I was so impression with him and his work that I asked this uncommon man if I could have the honor to shake his hand.
My reason to visit Ukraine was personal back in the late fall of 2003. It was fitting that I ended my trip by visiting the outdoor museum of Pyrogovo in Kyiv to get a glimpse into Ukraine’s past and a vision into my future.
It was a cool overcast day. The night before a light dusting of snow fell and the roofs of the museum buildings glistened with their soft coats of white. There was a sense of sadness this particular morning because I would soon be flying back to my home in Montana, leaving the lady I had corresponded with on a daily basis for 4 years behind. We felt comfortable with each other and we both knew the 4 years getting to know each other was well spent. However, the lady was having doubts whether I would ever return.
We walked hand in hand and stopped frequently to take pictures. It was very peaceful as we strolled through the different historic buildings and she told me about the different trappings of eras gone by. It made me think about my parents, who had farmed using horses and similar tools before they could afforded to modernize.
The houses and other buildings reminded me of how life on the prairie may have been for the early settlers, who came from all over Europe, to put down roots in the new world.
As we walked I reminisced about taking my parents on their first vacation after 40 years of marriage back to the Midwest where they were born and raised. It was on this trip back in the late 1970’s I saw my first house made of sod. The house was build in the 19th Century and was still being lived in by a relative back in Western Nebraska.
There was something about the atmosphere of Pyrogovo that attached itself to my heart, mind, and soul. It was as though I was Don Quixote coming to joust with the windmills that dotted the beautiful pastoral landscape to win the hand of the maiden he came to see.