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This low-tech jalg/ratta/hoidja (bicycle rack) in central Saaremaa, fashioned out of a palk (log) can accomodate rattad (bikes, literally "wheels"; jalg/ratas = "leg wheel"), as well as large aed/viljad ("garden crop/fruit", i.e. fruits and vegetables) awaiting transport. Perhaps the smaller one of these two kõrvitsad (pumpkins) could fit in your ratta/korv (bike basket). And then, when you get home, the traditional place to store them is high up on top of a shelf, cupboard or wardrobe, believe it or not. The sparkling, sweet, orange cubes of marineeritud kõrvitsa/salat have been a classic Estonian Christmas salad for generations.


Kõrvitsalised are the gourd family (cucurbita), and squash, pumpkins (which are officially winter squash), zucchini (a summer squash), and gourds are all known as some kind of kõrvits in Estonian. Butternut squash = muskaat-/kõrvits, spaghetti squash = spageti/kõrvits, calabash or bottle gourd = pudel/kõrvits, pattypan squash/patisson = taldrik/kõrvits and zucchini (courgette in the UK) = suvi- /kõrvits, but also kabatšokk (from the Russian), rull/kõrvits, melon/kõrvits and puhmikõli/kõrvits or "tussock oil squash"! Suvi/kõrvits ("summer squash") has become the most widely used Estonian name for zucchini, even though officially patisson and spaghetti squash are also members of the summer squash family... All other ornamental gourds are collectively known as ilu/kõrvitsad – more looks than taste. 


The word parkla in the title means a place to park, i.e. a parking lot. Words ending in - LA denote a place, (although not all words for places end in -la). Söökla (eat-la) = cafeteria; võimla (exercise-la) = gym; käimla (where you GO-la) = toilet, WC or outhouse; haigla (hospital, from the word haige, sick); ujula (swim-la) = pool, lehtla (leaf-la) = arbor/bower; suvila (summer-la) = cottage; kirikla (church-la) = parsonage/vicarage, where the parson or minister lives. (Also pastoraat in Estonia.) The suffix -la sounds a lot like ala, which means area. Perhaps there's a link.


There's a village in Ida-Virumaa called Kohtla (placela), which along with its neighbor Järve küla (first mentioned in the Taani hindamis/raamat (Danish Census Book) in 1241), became SQUASHED (amalgamated) into the oil shale processing city of Kohtla-Järve in 1949. 


All squash plants have their ancestry in the Americas, while the sport of squash, aka seina/tennis (wall tennis), but called squash in Estonian as well, was invented in London, England. The verb to squash, as in to crush, is lömastama, which in the case of a ripe squash, would result in löma, löga or lödi.


Photo and text:

Riina Kindlam,



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