The sky inside: how to describe the Russian province without praise and without swearing
A book of essays on Russian provincial sights was published.
As soon as it became clear in connection with the pandemic that in the foreseeable future our trips would be limited to the country of residence, voices were heard: something like this is your Menorca, we have something to see even without it, here Vetluga, for example, is no worse!
Since I was in the Baleares and in the Nizhny Novgorod region, I will never join this choir. Patriotism fueled by unfreedom is disgusting, a person needs the whole world, and no one can convince me that this is not so. But from personal experience, I know that the charm of providentiality is equally felt in both Vetluga and Menorca, despite the fact that, in the way of life, these settlements have little in common, to put it mildly. The book of Mikhail Baru “Unstamped gingerbread cookies” (M .: New Literary Review. 2020) gives this very clear idea.
Even when I read his previous book, The Bourgeois Nest, I thought that the travel essays written by this author would be very interesting. His ability to create a sense of the quiet charm of life for the reader has the same genre for his genre as his ability for irony.
“Two weeks was enough for me to book a hotel and arrange with the museum. Your will, but I don’t know how to hate Turkey or Egypt, not to mention Italy, to go not to Antalya or Rome, where everything is turned on, but to Kuvshinovo or Soligalich, where everything is turned off, and even broken into small fragments roads, ”he begins the story of his travels in Russia. Then follow observations of such beauty and subtlety that I want to immediately go to Kuvshinovo, Ostashkov, Fryanovo, Toropets, Ardatov, Lukoyanov or any other bewitching city described by him in this book. It seems that everything that makes up the life of a person who is not alien to labor, nature and culture is included in its chapters.
In Kuvshinovo, the factory “produced blue paper from rags, flax, matting, straw and wood, in which sugar heads were wrapped. It was in such paper that the fried chicken of college adviser Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov was wrapped at his entrance to the provincial city of NN”.
In the Toropets Museum hangs “a photograph of the beginning of the last century, which depicts Toropets beauties in their precious outfits in the literal sense of the word precious. On the head of each... no, the tongue cannot describe this as a headdress. This architectural structure is also a kind of product of the “Toropetsky Baroque”, it is a kind of kokoshnik with cones. These cones, similar to ordinary pine and spruce, are made of hundreds and thousands of river and lake pearls, which from ancient times were mined in the Torop River, Solomeno and Zalikovye lakes. There could be up to several dozen cones on the kokoshnik. and even a pearl mesh covering her hair and forehead, and three rows of pearl beads, and a handkerchief embroidered with gold ...By the way, about the museum. It is located in the baroque building of the Church of the Epiphany, the most beautiful of which cannot be found in Toropets. According to the documents of the church, only two and a half hundred years, and by the appearance of all five hundred, this is how it was launched. I looked at her and thought that the people who painted and stuccoed this church for the last time must have already died. They’re no longer allowed to go to the bell tower, part of the glass has been broken”.
Does Mikhail Baru write about the abomination of desolation? No. Does the endangered beauty of small Russian cities glorify? No, it’s not chanting - this word does not fit either his style or the essence of what is written. He does something else ... Maybe he allows a person to change himself, to expand his ability to think and feel so that he himself understands why his heart sank when looking at the world, the important part of which are Pestyaki, Balakhna and Bernovo. And why they, in fact, are such a part. Yes, here's why:
“If you go from Kostroma to Soligalich and turn left immediately after Chukhloma, drive along a country road a kilometer and a half or two to the gates of the Avraamyevo-Gorodetsky monastery, enter them, go up to the very top of the hill on which the cathedral stands, sit on a bench fortified with granite boulders, which is arranged over a high cliff, and to sit on it for half an hour, or at least a quarter of an hour, and look, not looking up, at Lake Chukhloma, at the sky floating in it, at the clouds in this sky, at the pine trees along the shores of this sky, you can feel and a pine, and a lake, and a cloud, and sky, and even a lark, if you, of course, can see it in the sky that is within you”.