Book 8, part 2. The Rites of Love (2006)
As I was completing the preceding chapter, it came to me that a rite like this could be successfully applied in our day, too. People in many parts of Russia today, mainly readers of the Ringing Cedars Series, are gathering together in groups, each family taking a hectare of land, planting orchards, building houses and setting up their own little Motherland. They are doing this, by and large, as families. But these groups also include a significant number of single women.
The settlement I have visited the most often is the one near the city ofVladimir, which numbers at the moment more than sixty domains under construction. Already, children are growing up who have been born in them. But there are also single women who have taken a hectare and are building their domain, sometimes with the help of their children, but sometimes all by themselves. Can you just see it? A woman builds a house all by herself, and plants an orchard. It’s not just a little dacha on a mere 600 square metres of ground that she is putting up, but an actual domain that she is building.
Is it hard for them? In a financial sense, yes. I know one woman who has rented out her Moscow apartment and is building a house in a field on the proceeds.
Because of insufficient funds, she is not always able to hire tradespeople, so she does a lot of the work herself. And she does it joyfully She has a goal, and takes joy in progress toward that goal. The progress may be slow, but it still more than compensates for all the challenges, and makes them seem insignificant by comparison.
After collecting information from various communities, I came to the conclusion that I should write a book about them as soon as possible. This will be a truly historic book. Our descendants ought to know how their new and happy civilisation got its start, and who started it.
In the meantime I asked the wife of one of the founders of the Rodnoye1 settlement in Vladimir Oblast to describe some of the unmarried women and what they were doing. Here are her brief descriptions:
Evgenia T. — born in Moldavia, 53 years old, a geologist, a real beauty, with a smile that would outshine Hollywood stars. She has an apartment in Malakhovka near Moscow, but she doesn’t go to it. She says: “My home is here.”
She first came to have a look around in 2003. She went mushroom-picking in the woods.
“They warned me,” says Evgenia, “they said that’s not your average forest! But I told them: ‘I’m a geologist, I shan’t get lost.’ I spent twelve hours wandering within a three-kilometre radius! My legs were practically broken by the time I got back around midnight. ‘This is my place!’ I said. I rented out my flat in Malakhovka for 10,500 roubles a month. 1 was able to start building with the money I received. I rented a house in Studentsovo, close to my plot. Turned out the furnace hadn’t been lit in ten years, and the house was falling apart. I pulled out a nest from the chimney — I hadn’t been able to light a fire.
“I spent the winter in the village alone. Sometimes I would go visiting, to Koniayevo.3 I was sparing with the wood, lighting a fire only every other time. In the fall I laid a foundation and put in a four-metre-by-four-metre log bany ad I spent the whole winter caulking the walls with tow. I now know the sound of falling snow.
“I would go about the house wearing three pairs of trousers and three sweaters along with a jacket and a shapka? But when I worked outdoors I got by with not so much clothing.
“In the spring I took a knife and scraped the rest of the bark off the timber frame. I now have a house which looks as though each log has been finely planed. I can hear the snow melting.
“I needed someone to fix the furnace. So I got dressed warmly and took a fishing rod (with no hook) and went down to the pond where some men were fishing (God forbid they should see my ‘tackle’)- I got into conversation with the men and ‘caught’ myself a furnaceman. And whenever I needed a tractor, I just went out onto the road and stopped the first one that came along.”
Evgenia’s got herself a vegetable garden — it’s all in order, everything’s coming up. The first year she put in a lavatory and a summer kitchen made of wattle. When there’s absolutely nothing left to eat, she makes up some porridge with fish oil. She’s a marvellous cook. Her feverish activity has been giving everyone a pain in the neck — the locals tend to shy away from us — but her house is already up! She says what she thinks.
Liubov E. — born in the Far East, 58 years old, lived 27 years in Perm and 20 years inTsimliansk in Rostov Oblast. She’s an ichthyologist, worked with fish conservation, now retired. She has a mother 84 years old and a son, 30, who lives in Perm (two grandsons); another son, 18, lives in Tsimliansk.
This year she began counting time in reverse, says she’s now 57. She began settingup her domain in 2003. She came for ten days, cut down the wild grass, planted a hedge (fir, pine, birch, aspen, linden, maple). An ideal plot indeed. In the winter she brought 50,000 roubles with her — all her mother’s savings. She put up a house-frame and covered it with asphalt roofing... In the spring she arrived with her ex-husband; he dropped her off on his way to Perm. They worked on the plot together. She says if it had been like this before, she would never have left him. She arrived in the summer, on 6 July (she was hurrying to get here in time for the Feast of Ivan Kupala ).
She really loves holidays. She sings, plays the guitar and dances. She gets a pension of 2,000 roubles a month. She took a leave of absence from her work for the summer. She’s got enough money, except for travel expenses... The community has helped her buy bricks, cement and timber. She herself spent a month laying the foundation under the furnace, then she put in the foundation for the house frame, put in uprights under the floor joists, caulked the whole house, made an awning and built a summer stove. She dragged around barrowfuls of rocks, sand and crushed stone. She thought she couldn’t do it, but she could! She got stronger, lost weight, and began swimming across the lake and back (something she couldn’t do earlier). She took off ten years (she dreamt of looking just a year young-er). Her eyes sparkle, she’s always smiling, and she’s made friends and gets along with everybody... She’s building the house for herself and her mother, and hopes the two of them can move in come spring. She wants her son and grandchildren to come and see her from Perm, and stay for a while so they can see whether they might want to live there... She’s got no money, and no source of income. She does have an old Italian violin which her father brought back from the war. Fifteen years ago experts appraised it at between ten and fifteen thousand dollars minimum, without restoration. She really hopes she can sell it — it’s 9 a violin ready to be played, not just a museum-piece. If she pulls it off, the work will go faster; if not, she’ll have to do everything herself. But you can’t lay down a floor or ceiling without boards. She’s very concerned over the lack of funds, but the house is getting built... She’ll be coming again in September, for a month. This past winter she visited her grandchildren in Perm, and paid a visit to her new domain on the way back — just for one day, to walk around, and stand in her own place, even though she could have taken a direct train to Rostov...
Natalia D. — born in Vologda, came here from Moscow, has two children — daughters two and five years old.
She’s been living in a tent since the end of May She’s divorced, and wants to take her children out of the city to avoid having them turned into puppets of the system. The summer’s been cold and rainy, but not a single complaint from Natalia. They brought in an old trailer for her. She’s peeled off all the old wallpaper and given it a thorough cleaning. She wants to cover it with board siding and put in insulation, so she’s buying up boards... She has no money Her husband provides enough to feed the children. She’s now living with them, and earning a living by working in the old field, helping the men put in the foundations. She dreams of staying on in the domain — even if not for this winter, then at least for the following one. She’s studying all the different house plans that she can build herself (including an adobe and a dugout). The children have become calmer and more cheerful.
When she drops by Liuba11 E.’s house and sees what she’s managed to do, she says: “Well, if you can do it, I can, too. After all, I’m younger and stronger than you.” She’ll do it!
She’s always smiling, and has a terrific singing voice. She’s got a college-level education. A beautiful soul!
Sorry to be so emotional, but I just love them all so much...
Nadezhda Z. — a farmer from Belarus. After the Chernobyl disaster they lived near Azov,12 then spent a year at Paretskoye in the Suzdal area (while waiting for a field), and this past year they’ve been living in someone else’s house at Koniayevo.
This summer she began construction on her own house. Two grown-up children are currently living in Moscow. Her daughter and sister have also taken plots. They all want to get together. The husband and children work. Nadezhda looks after the household, supervises the construction, and works on building the house herself... For many years she was part of a professional dance ensemble. She has the poise of a ballerina, even when she’s pushing wheelbarrows full of manure... You can’t help but admire her! The family has two dogs, four cats (mousers), rabbits, hens (Smirnov breed, preserved in homesteads during revolutionary times), a goat, and pigeons.
The house is awash in all sorts of flowers, both plain and exotic. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything she needs to know about. Her husband and children support her, but she has to do everything herself; they’re leading their own lives for the time being. She is firmly and confidently building the future.
She recently broke her right arm (falling off a bicycle which her children gave her as a fiftieth-birthday present, so that she could get around everywhere). She took one day off. The very next day she was back forking hay (winter fodder for the animals). Now she’s painting and planing the boards. When I asked her how she does it, she smiles: “With one hand tied behind my back!” She’s always smiling, she loves to sing, she’s the life of any party, she’s everyone’s darling, a real storehouse of knowledge, and our consultant to boot. She’s tiny and slender, a support for the whole family She’s successful in everything she puts her hand to — house, construction, animals, vegetable garden, canning preserves, and what fruit liquors she makes!!! She hasn’t any apartment or house to go back to, and by the fall she’ll have to vacate the house in the village, as the owners are returning. She’ll be spending the winter in her new house!
This information I obtained a year ago. Now all the heroines described have already finished building and none of them plan to retreat from their goal. No doubt it was women such as these the poet had in mind when he said:
She’ll stop a wild horse on the gallop,
And enter a hut all inflames.
And I would add: She’ll build the domain herself, and take her man into eternity. But where is this man of hers? When will she have a chance to meet with him if she’s engaged in such a big undertaking from morning ’til night?
How many bright young women in various parts of the country dream about co-creating a family domain! And it would be good if they could find their life partner before creating it.
I’ve thought about the possibility of organising a data bank where such women could register, and men could pay them a visit as temporary workers. Maybe the women could even choose themselves soulmates. It shouldn’t be that the men choose them, but that they should choose the men.
We have an expression: a high-society lady,14 meaning a woman who is ‘in’ with the elite crowd of the rich and famous. But what is this ‘high society5, if the in-crowd has nothing better to offer society at large than spread gossip in the tabloids? But if you marry one of these ladies, as many men have noted, you get nothing but caprices and unreasonable demands thrown at you.
It has come to me that the real ‘ladies of high society’ are the married and unmarried women of today who are building their family domains and are getting ready to give birth therein to healthy children, or pass along what they have built to their children already born.
Good can come only from them — good which will benefit not only single men but the nation as a whole. The children they bear will be the face of our future civilisation.
And Anastasia’s grandfather could not have been more right when he spoke of the vital importance to resolve 4a high-society lady (Russian: zhenshchina iz vysshego sveta) — literally, ‘a woman from a higher world’. Note that the Russian word svet (world) can also signify ‘light’.
questions of the family on the national level. How they are being resolved today, the Russian families themselves know better than anyone — and not just Russian families.
Somehow we have got to resolve the question of organising events which will be able to assist these women, or rather assist the men to get acquainted with women who are setting up their own little Motherland.
I hereby request the administrators of the Anastasia.ru website to consider ways to better facilitate such acquaintanceships on-line. Perhaps each unmarried woman or man among my readers could post their address and contact coordinates on the site. I would remind anybody who doesn’t have a computer that there are Internet clubs in almost every city, where they can read information from websites, as well as post offices which offer Internet access services.
For my part, I shall formulate here the text of my greeting to men of all countries where my books are available, and would ask all the translators in Europe and America to highlight it.
Gentlemen! I know that many of you, and especially those who are not yet involved in family life, would love to meet that unique woman with whom you could find joy in a lifetime companionship. But where to find such a woman? Just about the only recourse you have is to apply to one of the many marriage bureaus around. Beware, however, that almost all of them give priority to outward characteristics, as well as age, with only a little attention paid to character and life-goals. And even this ‘little’ has not been confirmed for certain. But what is for certain?... Women have shown up offering their youth, beauty and smiles, all ready to sign a marriage contract with you on the condition that you are rich and can guarantee them an abundance of material benefits. Already in Moscow there are cafes where beautiful women gather to offer themselves to rich suitors. This is no new phenomenon.
“But what’s wrong with it?” certain men might think. “I’m a man of some means and I can afford to sign a marriage contract with a young and beautiful girl. All she has to do is take care of my needs in bed and make me the envy of everyone at social gatherings. After all, if you have relationships with young people, you’ll become younger yourself.”
All this is fine and dandy, but there is one but. What does your young cohabiter think and dream about? She is, after all, a living being and capable of attraction and affection, only the object of her affections is by no means you. So along comes the desire, sooner or later, to free herself from you, whom she sees as an obstacle on the road to happiness. So then, even if she doesn’t resort to putting out a contract on your life (such things occasionally do happen, as you know), or to slipping poison into your morning coffee, it doesn’t take much more than a thought — a subconscious thought at that — to get you permanently out of the way. And even though you may think you are bringing into your home a kind and tender beauty, in fact you are bringing home a poisonous serpent. The distinction between the two is only in external appearance, and so, instead of placing this serpent in an aquarium behind impenetrable glass, you are putting her beside you in your bed.
Perhaps, as a counter to the destructive phenomena of our life, some women have shown themselves to be harbingers of a new and happy civilisation. In building a family domain, they are not merely putting a roof over their head, they are actually laying the foundation for a whole new life. An actual foundation!
A dying billionaire, for example, will be revivified and will regain his youth upon meeting a woman like that. A prosperous businessman will flounder without her. It is not money that prolongs life, but the thought of your beloved and the Space of Love which the two of you have cocreated together. And insofar that it guarantees the conditions requisite for a quick and conscious reincarnation, it not only prolongs life, but makes life eternal.
No matter what words I have written, no matter what arguments I have put forward, they will not succeed in touching your heart the way an acquaintanceship with such women can. I would urge you to make every effort to get to know these earthly goddesses of eternity
And it is quite possible that this encounter will be similar to the one Anastasia told me about.