If you’ve been to enough typical feasts in this country, you’ve seen how hard Georgian women work to put all that food on groaning tables, and then as long or longer to clean it up afterwards. The men’s feast-related jobs, at least in the villages, will be butchering any animals, doing barbecues or cauldron stews, and, if the gathering is large enough, taking care of bench and table setup, plus a marquee or tent if the weather requires it. But it seems to be that the women work the hardest in this domain, and the men do most of the eating, drinking and making of toasts; with the odd token word given to honoring the women.
We recently hosted two ladies up from Tbilisi who are friends of ours and who came to offer something to the ladies of our village. They were only here for a few days. But they brought materials for making beautiful greeting cards, and we called the ladies and then provided drinks and snacks, and hosted the gatherings in our cafe.
It’s a busy time of year in the farming schedule. There is hay to be cut (either by the traditional scythe or by a new gasoline-powered cutter called an alligator); this the men do. Once it’s cut, all available family members help in turning it over until it is dry, and then raking and pitchforking it into haystacks for the ruminant livestock’s winter feed. The moving of the stacks to barns all used to be done by oxen pairs on sleds of wooden runners, which might not have wheels at all. This, too, is giving way to cheap but useful little trucks, bought from Japan, which have become very popular in villages across the country. So, women can be quite tied up with hay-raking.
The potato harvest is still a little ways off, starting soon after school’s mid-September reopening. So that isn’t keeping our ladies busy yet, though it will. But there is the twice-daily milking and the mucking out of barns, driving cows to their daily grazing in the mornings and then fetching them back every evening, sometimes from an hour’s walk away at a quick pace (which both men and women, and teenagers too, can do). So the ladies still have much to occupy them here.
The first call for “ladies’ club” gave us one responder, plus some of her children and her husband hanging around, so they were invited at least to sit with my wife and the guests and follow proceedings. The second time, though, had a few more ladies, and children who are always welcome, and they had a grand time just enjoying themselves, chatting, socializing, making cards, and being free from work for a few hours.
We’ve also noticed that the simple gazebo we have had outside for a few years now, with a table and chairs and even a donated football table, is a great hang-out spot for children of all ages. They buy something from our shop, play a few rounds of Barcelona vs. Arsenal or whoever, relax in their own space away from home, and just are able to be themselves. We are delighted for this to happen, and also for opportunities to give the ladies a chance to get out from under their workload and chill a bit. “All work and no play”, after all, is not recommended.
Now if we could just take one of our 70-plus single ladies on even a few days’ holiday with us to the Black Sea coast! A dream, for her as well as us, though we do it annually anyway. The hard part is finding someone to take over her barn duty just for those few days, plus whatever cooking and cleaning she does for herself and her nephew at home! We would whisk her off before she could find any reason why not. Still working on that one.