Wednesday, December 13, 2006
13 December 2006. Slow morning with a late start. Natasha jumps onto high round table--compact mass of tortoise-shell fur, tiny pink tongue against dark little face...waiting for a rub. Last night: Arkady Renko at Chernobyl--the Zone. Hot spots and blasted trees--"a stand of red pines." Cooling pond six kilometers long, with ponderous catfish each the size of a truck. "Renko--that's a good Ukranian name," declares the seventy-something Hero of Socialist Labor, in Slavutych, a replacement city, but there's cesium in the topsoil there, too. As if they were followed--impossibility of salvation. Images of taxidermy: a badger preserved, a reactor embalmed. And yet the older couple in the black village, serving them pickled mushrooms, cucumber, salted fat. "Don't turn on your dosimeter." The key phrase. "Don't turn on your dosimeter."