In other unbreaking news, folks in Southern Transylvania are preparing for winter

October 1, 2023 by Lucian Mogosanu

The news in this article is unbreaking on one hand because it can't quite relate to the breaking kind in any way, as it has very little to do with any sort of Big Things happening nowadays in global politics, from global war to global warming; while on the other, the same sort of news has been making the headlines each and every year for probably the last couple of millenia if not more, so it is in fact no sort of news at all.

Let us understand each other: the grass is still green over in Southern Transylvania. Just take for example this view from the foot of the Piatra Craiului1 mountains:

Did you notice, by the way, that the rural practice of herding animals, from horses to cows to sheep and whatnot, makes up a sort of particularly efficient engine? For the sake of brevity let's call it the bovine engine.

The bovine engine is a pillar of rural life. Bovines -- and ovines and equines too, but let's not get ahead of ourselves -- are natural lawn mowers, which not only makes the fields look more beautiful, but it also makes them easier to travel by foot. Furthermore, said animals convert the grass into milk that is integrated into a whole mini-industrial complex along with wheat, vegetables, eggs and so on and so forth, all required to make everything from fine cheeses to confectionery. Finally, animal waste is reused as fertilizer, returning all the required nutrients back into the ground for farming as well as the grassland itself. So then if you call yourself an ecologist, tell me: how's this for zero-waste cycles? but more importantly: how in Baal's name2 is it that you're looking to replace this with, of all things, insects?

Before we move back to the main topic, let us take a pretend-promotional moment to look at this night shot of a half-empty -- or half-full, depending on your perspective -- bottle of Breezer, brought to you by Samsung3:

This was taken at the Plaiul Foii4 cabin in Piatra Craiului, deeper into the mountains. The cabin was well lit beyond midnight, but I'll have you know that much of the light actually came from the moon itself, towering above the clouds:

This one was taken at around 1:30 in the night, it was well below ten degrees Celsius outside, which was bearable only due to the lack of a wind to caress our skins. And although no one was cooking at the time, we could smell the burnt wood coming out of the cabin's chimneys.

Then we have Piatra Craiului at 8:30 in the morning:

The waiters were late5 so we took some time to explore the area and then after our breakfast we headed on the usual adventure to see the entire extended Rucăr-Bran corridor, including Moieciu, Peștera and Fundata.

So as I was saying the residents of Piatra Craiului, among other groups in the Southern Transylvanians, are preparing for winter. The amount of light and natural heat they get during the day is much smaller now than it was in August so they're stocked with firewood, and by now they're stocked with food as well as they've prepared their reserves of sour cucumbers, cheeses and dried (and smoked) meat. The remnants of summer will go away in a couple of weeks as they make way to a less welcoming and more orange and brown-coloured atmosphere.

Romania's a fine country, wouldn't you say? Not quite the Swiss Alps, but certainly worth visiting anytime.

  1. The Romanian "piatră" stands for rock, 'cause that's what mountains are even in old Romanian folklore, just a bunch of huge rocks. Thus Piatra $x is a pretty common toponym in these parts of the Carpathians, so then the question remains, why did they call it the Crai's Rock and not some other Rock?

    The word "crai" is very old, in fact it dates back to the Old Slavic "kral", which is a different way to spell "karl", referring obviously to Charles the Great AKA Charlemagne. "Kral" has even spilled from one of the Slavic languages into Turkish and it denotes the same thing, that is, a king. So "crai" also means king, which would then make Piatra Craiului the King's Rock. 

  2. Which by the way denotes a whole lot more than the demon in Diablo. 

  3. They make their own camera sensors nowadays. The photos in the series used an ISOCELL 3T1 sensor, which to my untrained eye is far superior to the old Sony compact sensors, which were absolutely fabulous for their time. The sensor is merely a more or less precise replica of retina cells, although to be completely fair, much of the photo processing on smartphones nowadays occurs in software or in other specialized hardware in the SoC.

    In the year 2023 I rarely see the need to carry a DSLR with me, or: since we've all got this ultrasophisticated tech around us, we might as well put it to use. 

  4. "Plai" is an old Romanian word meaning plain, or a piece of land, as in "plaiurile mioritice", i.e. "Miorița's land". "Foii" is the genitive of "foaie", meaning "sheet", but pointing perhaps to "frunză", i.e. leaves, as in "foaia de mesteacăn" (Birch leaves). So roughly, the English for Plaiul Foii would be... the Land of Leaves?

    It might sound like the name of a fantasy setting, but that's probably because it looks like a fantasy setting to the average gamer. Plaiul Foii could be the place where they filmed World of Warcraft for all I know. 

  5. One particular girl complained that she was the last one to leave the night before and the first one to arrive. Her secret is safe with me here on The Tar Pit, but she was more unhappy by the fact that some TV star staying in the same place had complained that the staff didn't abide by the hours placed for all to see by the cabin administration. I'll go ahead and bet that the girl also watches Antena 1, but other than that she signed some papers and last I heard everyone in ourdemocracy takes rules Very Seriously(tm), so why the fuck was she complaining, especially when her customers were around? She's fortunate that her employer won't read these lines.

    Anyways, la tăți ni-i greu, cum s-ar zice. 

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2 Responses to “In other unbreaking news, folks in Southern Transylvania are preparing for winter”

  1. #1:
    Cel Mihanie says:

    Heh, Piatra Craiului, could also call it King's Stone. Geddit? Like the guys who made good RAM (or so I'm told) and now, alas, not nearly as great when it comes to SSDs.

    Hate to be a party pooper (lies), but I for one don't think there is any time capsule of pastoralism that's truly immune to the "pantsuit"-mediated force of cyberpunk dystopization. The grass may be green and the adults still seemingly sane, but just ask them about their kids. Are their faces also stuck in their tablets? Are the kids even still around at all, or have they already left for the IQ grinders of Bucharest and other "European capitals"?

  2. #2:
    spyked says:

    > and now, alas, not nearly as great when it comes to SSDs

    Anyone else making good SSDs nowadays except Samsung and Intel? although I've never tried the latter, I've just read what they say on various Reddits.

    As to pantsuit infestation in rural settings, I guess it depends. The girl in footnote #5 would be a particularly bad example of stayers; I guess some kids stay to help the family business, while others leave and come back after a while, while yet others get eaten by the Western mirage (most of them in Bucharest, yes, among others 'cause it's the most accessible option).

    I personally know a few folks who either bought a plot of land in some village or who've got parents still living the old kind of life++, with cars and smartphones. I'm sure that the former are interested in leaving the remains of citadels, while I know at least one person in the latter group who intends to return to the countryside for good; I don't know about the rest, but at least their family connections give them a good chance at that. Whether they'll take it or not, that's another question.

    So overall I don't know whether there's any time capsule of pastoralism to be had in the future, but as I've said many times on this blog, I strongly believe that smaller, more culturally cohesive (even if said "culture" ain't much) environments have a better chance of surviving the ongoing transformation than any urban "community" you might find in the bars, on FB/Insta or anywhere in these fine towns of ours. Besides, I have no reason to believe that there's a crisis of sheep herders among Romanians, since there's good money (and more generally resources) to be earned from this activity and it requires a level of literacy below that required to use a smartphone.

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