A couple of blocks away next to the river is a large apartment building, several stories high, that has been there for as long as I can remember. There is a street that runs between the building and the steep river bank. There is a sidewalk on the river side of the street with some narrow areas of grass between the sidewalk and the trees that grow at the top of the river bank.
There are several Russian families living there, most of them elderly. Five of the ladies can be seen walking together when the weather is nice for walking. They walk slowly so the one who uses a walker can keep up. They all wear dark colored dresses and sensible shoes. And each of them wears a brightly colored head scarf that is tied under the chin. Which is why I fondly refer to them as "The Babushkas."
These sweet little ladies try really hard to converse in English. But when they are talking to one another, it is always in Russian. I think it probably is not easy to learn another language at their age. They are so friendly that it is easy to take the time to listen and attempt to understand their broken English. Their smiles will light up a dreary day.
The Babushkas are an industrious group. I have seen them working the soil in those narrow strips of grass, turning them into little gardens. With spades and rakes, the four who are mobile get the soil ready in the spring. The one with the walker supervises. They plant all sorts of flowers next to the sidewalk - daisies, marigolds, zinnias.
Behind the flowers they plant tomatoes, peppers, beets, green beans and cabbage. I have often seen them out there tending their little gardens. They are happy to show anyone who is interested what they are growing. They once tried to teach me the Russian names for the plants, but I didn't do too well remembering them. My efforts at wrapping my tongue round the Russian words made them laugh, so it was fun, just the trying to say them.
I read an article not too long ago about another group of immigrants living not very far from here. That group had several among them convicted of terrorist activities. The families of the convicted were loudly protesting. They were shouting about how unfair they felt American justice was. Threats and demands abounded.
I think we could use more Babushkas.
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