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Goodbye to Summer

By Michelle Borok

 

Too soon the green will turn to brown

Oh, much too soon the rain will tumble down

Another winter has come to stay

Goodbye to summer

The Autumn leaves may fall

But I can still recall

A summer sky

Greta Keller’s “Goodbye to Summer”, Lyrics by Suzanne Botterell and Harry Phillips

 

The signs of summer’s end come with the leaves changing color, the tall grass wilting and waiting to be harvested for winter fodder, and the frenzy to finish construction projects in the capital and the provinces. Students who’ve spent their summers traveling abroad, visiting family in the provinces, doing volunteer work, or just enjoying the sights of the city, are chugging forward into work mode. They’re dragging parents on shopping sprees, and preparing for the start of the semester next week.

The seasons, as they do everywhere, roll on and on.

Mongolia has had an eventful summer. The economic and political news has been lively and controversial. Fit for tabloids, or at least for the premise of a Korean drama series. We had trials, pardons, misunderstandings, and train wrecks. Now, we’ve even had a devastating fire.

This year’s Naadam celebrations were over the top, setting new standards and breaking records. They left some wondering about how the tab was being paid, but most people set budget worries aside and celebrated the accomplishments of this year’s highly organized events which included the participation of thousands. The festivities succeeded in bringing together an economically and ethnically diverse population. It’s going to be tough to beat next summer.

But summer’s saying goodbye. Now we’ve all got to buckle down and get to business before the really hard part comes: winter. Parliament is having their post-vacation session to talk about what went wrong and what to do next. Students are taking a stand against rising tuition costs facing them this semester. The Mongolian adventure rallies and tourists are starting to thin out and head home. Farmers are sorting out the good and the bad of big rains, and the labor unions are asking for answers for workers – the latest victims of the tussles between Rio Tinto and Parliament.

On the drive to Darkhan from UB, just a couple kilometers north of Bayanchandmani soum, my husband and I stopped at a small Naadam we saw from the road. The grey sky was still lightly raining, but when we arrived, a couple of hundred people were weathering the drizzle to watch a group of mounted Military Unit riders demonstrate their skills. Spectators crowded in the edges of the “arena” to watch the soldiers clear jumps three-abreast and perform smoothly executed field drills. They finished their performance by galloping in formation, standing on their Russian cavalry saddles and hoisting a giant Mongolian flag. The crowd roared and the rain abated.

In the break between the equestrian demonstration and wrestling, we visited the gers circling the arena. Each ger represented a soum. Inside, displays featured specialties of their region, with items for exhibition and sale. Kharkhorin, Erdenet, Darkhan and Choibalsan soums joined others in this small Naadam funded by the American Millenium Challenge Corporation, along with the support of local governmental and non-governmental organizations. A digital display on the main stage thanked the American people.

The event was a pleasantly unexpected reminder of the joys of Mongolian summers, without a lot of fanfare. People had driven, ridden and wandered in – as we had – and joined in the celebration of summer and the talents of the region. I watched a woman in high-heels and designer sunglasses boldly urge a borrowed horse into a gallop around the festival grounds. She was off to a rough start when she first mounted up. Her horse spun and was reluctant to leave it’s shade beside a khuushuur tent, but the determined rider found her seat and leg and dashed off, as steady as any of the jockeys riding in that afternoon’s race. It was a heartwarming sight. Naadam reconnects so many Mongolians to cultural experiences that can unite and define.

In hard times, unity and identity can pull a community (or a nation) together.

In my time here, one thing I’ve learned is how incredibly resourceful the Mongolian people are. I read the headlines, watch the news, and talk to friends and family about the road ahead. Much tougher times have been experienced. In true Mongolian fashion, I rarely encounter blind optimism as often as I encounter a sense of acceptance of uncertainty.

What is certain, is that summer’s end calls for austerity and  preparation. The livestock on the steppes are going to try to survive winter on the scraps of summer beneath the snow, and Mongolia’s politicians are going to be busy with summer damage control in these upcoming sessions.

Enjoy these final warm afternoons, and get outside to appreciate what we still have to enjoy before the cold scares you into staying inside.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=5687

Posted by on Aug 29 2013. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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