/26 Habitare

Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin

The Color of Hay: The Peasants of Maramures (Romania)

At the turn of the millennium, for a year of days beginning in the autumn of 1999, Kathleen and Henry lived in a remote village, in the Maramures region of northern Transylvania, Romania. This region is unique amongst the former Soviet Bloc for the way it has preserved its way of life. After World War II, for forty years of communist rule, a few valleys in Maramures escaped collectivized farming because of poor soil and hilly landscape. In the post-cold-war period, preservation continued because of pervasive impoverishment which slows the advancement of modernity into the reaches of northern Transylvania.
But nothing will stand still forever. While the older generation still don winter footwear that pre-date the Romans, the younger generation flock to market to buy shoes bearing that ubiquitous swoosh of western manufacture.