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Summer, autumn : activity calendar.
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The Evenk divide their year into five seasons: summer, fall, winter, first spring and second spring. During each of these periods, they nomadize to specific zones in response to the needs of their herds or the hunt, taking advantage of the different microclimates.

Summer, djuga. . The year begins with ìthe best timeî, the start of summer, which is announced by the first cuckoo call. The taiga is illuminated by the bright green larch needles budding out after nine months of snow. Families gather to go up to the cooler regions in the north or at higher altitudes, for reindeer do not do well in heat. This used to be the time for the renewal ritual, which only G.M. Vasilevich was able to observe (in the Sym River valley, in the 1920s). Some Evenk still remember this celebration that lasted for several months, interspersed with games, weddings and shamanistic rites, and when arrangements were made for the winterís hunting. Grouping together facilitates caring for the reindeer. To protect them from the maddening swarms of horseflies and mosquitoes, the men light two smoking campfires to providerefuge for the animals. When it rains, they walk for kilometers to collect their herds. These gatherings also enable Evenk to practice an exclusively collective type of hunting that is infrequent in winter: the stalking of moose, red deer or bear. One moose will feed the inhabitants of five tents for a month. The young children, women and old men fish in the nearby streams as the need arises. At summerís end, they gather berries, the last to ripen being the cranberry, which they freeze for consumption in the winter.

Fall, bolo. Just as suddenly as it turned green, the taiga yellows in less than a week. The family groups break up and return to the valleys where it is cooler, pairing off to choose a hunting territory. The reindeer spread out in search of mushrooms and succulent plants such as the horsetail: it takes a full day to gather in the herd, one by one. At night, the young animals are tied up in the corral to keep their mothers from wandering; armed men guard the herd to protect it from the bears fattening up for winter. During this time, the Evenk eat fish and birds while waiting for the first snowfall, when the taiga will become ìan open book, where animal tracks are easy to readî.. There is little nomadic activity since the rivers have not frozen hard enough. In preparation for the snow season, sleds are made or repaired, skins are treated to make clothing, hunting equipment is made ready, etc. Then the men resume hunting for meat; they gather all the domesticated female reindeer far from the camp; then they wait and watch, ready to bring down any wild male that might venture to approach them. Watching and mimicking reindeer fights in mating season is one of the favorite pass-times of the young. Fall ends when the snow has set in and the first really hard freezes come (-30?C).

Author(s): A. Lavrillier
Date created: 2003-09-08 - Date modified: 2004-04-14

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