A Ukrainian Memory…
The Ukrainians I have known are kind and warm-hearted people, yet they are unbreakable. Violence belongs to the weak. And only the strong can be gentle. This is a remembrance of a Ukrainian woman I once knew who proved my point.
Springtime in Ukraine
This year the flowers will come up again in Ukraine as beautiful as ever. But nobody there is laughing with them.
I’ll never touch the soil of Ukraine, but I found a remembrance of a brave Ukrainian friend in my editorial archives (Jamestown Gazette, 3-15-2015). Her name was Daria Karanovich, a renowned European pianist and musical scholar. Many years ago she skirted death and carnage in her perilous journey to the US escaping brutal Soviet oppression in her homeland.
The year she arrived in the US, the spring flowers blooming in her small tenement garden in Irvington, New Jersey—within sight of the Statue of Liberty—could finally laugh out loud. Until last month, it seemed like it could last forever.
But on Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russia showed the world its leaders had not changed. Once again Ukrainian people cannot laugh with the miracle of springtime flowers.
A pastor friend once told me there was no need to explain miracles to my children. “Just teach them how to plant a garden and by summertime they’ll understand.” Among the most beautiful are roses like the ones that grow in traditional Ukrainian folk songs and poems—enduring symbols of love and beauty.
Daria made roses into something elegant—her rose petal jam—a miracle I’d never tasted before we met. It was the most delicate, sweet, enchanting substance, an exotic taste of her Old Ukraine. With it, she filled her Kiev-style Pampushki, rose petal jam-filled donuts, exotic and sweet.
So, if you are already giving what you can in aid to Ukraine, take a moment for the taste of sweet strength within the unbreakable Ukrainian people. Daria’s recipe is elegant in its simplicity, and perhaps just now symbolic as well. Pluck a quarter pound of fresh, fragrant red rose petals, crush them in twice as much sugar, and add a spoonful of lemon juice to keep the color bright.
You’ll find that a fragrance always rises from the bruised petals, just like the courage and strength of the Ukrainian people.
In the end, they will laugh at their oppressors, those who would crush them.
Glory to Ukraine!