fall plus nardi

I. Love. Autumn. Bring on the soup. Bring on the sweaters. Bring on fall colors and cozying up. Tomorrow is the big apartment move-in day. I moved up here with my Peace Corps bags and a few boxes, so I’m fairly housewares-less. But right now my dreams are filled with me, on a couch with hot tea, warm bread, and an blanket.

I’ve done a lot of wandering around in these first couple of weeks in Minneapolis. I’ve done a lot of sitting in coffee shops, a lot of walking down unknown streets, a lot of wandering into record stores and old-stuff stores and book stores. I’ve done a lot of wondering at the fall leaves.Seriously, yesterday I just stopped and stared at the ground.

Beautiful. There are reds and yellows and greens, and the wind whips them up and lays them down in brushstrokes. Every boulevard offers fantastic colors.

Yesterday was a bizarrely warm autumn day, perfect for the Armenian church in St. Paul which held a fundraiser festival, cooking lamahjo, kebab, and other delicious Caucasian treats. They lined the space outside with picnic table and cooked up a feast. They set up their foyer as a cafe, shuffling jazzves over hot plates to pour coffee into those familiar tiny cups. An Armenian woman hovered ready for anyone whose coffee grounds had settled, whose fortune awaited a reading.

I did balk a bit when she tried to explain to me how to turn your cup for a coffee-grounds reading. A wave of tiny moments rolled over me, moments when Alvard or Gayane or Serine or so many wonderful tatiks (grandmothers) laughed while I looked into their coffee cups and read their fortunes myself. ‘None of these Armenians know,’ I thought. Many of them have never been to Armenia. Certainly none know how much I am missing it, how much I wish I could sit with my landdad and play a game of nardi, how much I wish I could grab the pinkies of my co-workers and dance the kochari.

One man at the edge of the church yard sat whittling wooden boxes. A woman asked him a question, and he said, “My english, not good. Wait?”

“Do you speak Armenian,” I asked.


“Yes el em khosum hayeren,” I said. I also speak Armenian. And there it was, a glimmer I’d been waiting to see. A connection I had so hoped to make on this Autumn afternoon at the Armenian church.

“Du hay es?” he asked me. Are you Armenian? Sweeter words were never spoken. This man was from Yerevan. When I told him that I’d just come from there a few months ago, he laughed, asked me about the city. Another PCV with whom I served in Armenia was there as well, and the three of us talked about the country and settled into this corner of the church yard for a game of nardi. I sat with him for a couple hours, hours that felt like a breath of fresh air.

The man lives in Iowa, so I won’t see him soon. But how wonderful to have a small, autumn day, a brief Armenian afternoon.


  1. Oh, how wonderful, indeed. I love this story of connection.

  2. Here’s hoping for a “second annual” festival to go along with this first!

    1. I am SO for that.

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