Still Frames

Take time to see Romania with wide and unclouded eyes, on the lookout for your own snapshots and memories.
Still Frames
Making haystacks in the village of Malancrav
Confession: I am a cureless people-watcher. Months ago, when I first entered Romania, I was struck by the affection shown between people on the streets, the respect shown one another regardless of age or dress, and the pride that comes with telling foreigners about the specific city or village people are from. In a country fraught with deep history, legends, and natural beauty, it is hard to not be swept up in a culture so saturated with things to learn and discover. The month I arrived in Romania, Ana’s treasured dream of creating a magazine that reflects and celebrates Romania’s longstanding traditions was just coming to fruition. “Satul”/“The Village” accomplishes both of these ambitions. As an aspiring journalist I found encouragement in watching the enthusiasm and meticulous care with which Ana worked on the project—and in the beauty the first issue was crafted in; it has been a delight to participate in contributing to the second. As one travels, one obtains a collection of personal mental images that grab one’s heart and imagination—usually, alas, when a camera is not handy—that stick with one in a perhaps more accessible way than if physical proof of the moment had been possible. One such instance caught my attention at the very beginning of my journey in discovering Romania for myself, in the unlikely place of a busy street corner. Waiting to cross the street—still baffled at the confidant manner in which Romanians charge across the street via crosswalks—I saw two women on the other side from me. One was a young woman perhaps in her late twenties in a stylish business suit, chattering importantly on her cell phone; the other was an elderly woman, slightly bent with age, wearing traditional clothing of a full flowered skirt, blouse, and a head scarf keeping the wisps of silver hair out of her face. I stared. No, I possibly gaped. I had never before been confronted by such an obvious mesh and coexistence of culture. The thriving contrast that was highlighted by their differing dress styles was strangely forgotten in the moment of seeing their shared nationality and the two of them standing side-by-side without the slightest askance glance. The more I learn about Romania, and the more stories am privileged to hear, the more I come back to this photograph in my mind and reevaluate it. I have continuously surprised myself how each time this happens, I see this moment in a new light, and it represents deeper and deeper levels of Romania to me. The mixture and acceptance of a past, present, and future by the people of Romania, I believe, captures many who choose to visit this land. The enchanting landscapes serve as a perfect backdrop that is as respected and valued by this country’s inhabitants as their traditions. The pastures freckled with haystacks mesmerize me every time I pass by. It is not difficult to understand how the natural richness of the country—of which Romanians are deservedly proud—reaches into the souls of her inhabitants and creates lasting love. Even as a non-local, I have hope to be permitted to claim that I also have been impacted by this meshing of worlds and cherishing of lifestyles and landscapes that have survived for centuries. Take time to see Romania with wide and unclouded eyes, on the lookout for your own snapshots and memories. Allow yourself to be caught up in the awe and majesty of the unique dark green beauty of the evergreens shading the mountains and of an enchanting full moon visible amongst a myriad of stars that has shared the eyes of all of Romania—her past, present, and future. by Margaux Eleina Novak

Margaux Eleina Novak
Eleina studied English Literature at North Carolina State University.
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