Photo of the Day for July 25, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

How many times had I passed by this scene without stopping to take in all the shapes in this cluster of trees?

Near Dubrova 2014.  Ля в. Дуброва 2014 г.

Photos of the Day for July 24, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

Belarus in Faces (part CXXXIX).  Беларусь у тварах (частка СХХХІХ).

Six years ago I had noticed two neat-as-a-pin houses and barnyards side-by-side in Chyrvonaje.  I stopped to chat with the owners, sisters Maryja and Nina.  After some gentle persuasion they agreed to having their portraits taken, and I subsequently gave them copies.

Maryja and Nina, Chyrvonaje 2008.  Спадарыні Марыя й Ніна, Чырвонае 2008 г.

Their houses have remained in impeccable order.  After after talking to the granny across the street (photos of the day for July 23), I waved to Maryja and Nina, who were watching from the other side of the road.  They recognized me and bantered about my photography.  We talked about their impending strawberry crop and they noted how important it is always to leave the first three ripe strawberries in the woods as an offering to God.

When I mentioned that I was on my way to Azdamichy and Tsjerablichy, Maryja’s eyes twinkled.  She had been a bus conductor on the route from the district center of Zhytkavichy in Homjel’ Region through those villages to the district center of Stolin in Bjares’tsje (Brest) Region.  She unerringly described the language, dress, and character of each village and recalled how the locals spoke of the continuing marked differences in attitudes “to the west of Malishau, beginning in Vjalikaje Maljeshava”.   Malishau, the last village in Homjel’ Region before the border with Bjares’tsje Region, was the last village on the Soviet side of the border during the Soviet interwar occupation of the eastern Belarusian lands.  Vjalikaje Maljeshava was the first village in the western Belarusian lands on the Polish side of the interwar border.

Maryja and Nina, Chyrvonaje 2014.  Спадарыні Марыя й Ніна 2014 г.

Maryja.  Спадарыня Марыя.

Nina.  Спадарыня Ніна.

 

Photos of the Day for July 23, 2014

Road to Polesia.  Дарога на Палесьсе.

Eight years ago on a photo expedition to Polesia we had stopped to ask this granny about the road ahead.

Chyrvonaje 2006.  Чырвонае 2006 г.

On a subsequent journey I  stopped to give her an enlargement of one of the photos I had taken, and every time thereafter I would look out for her when passing through Chyrvonaje.  In 2011 her house burned down, and although for a while one could see hens in the yard and other signs that she had been able to recoup something, for the past two years the yard has looked forlorn.

While driving through Chyrvonaje this time, I caught sight of the granny sitting with her neighbor by the ruins of her house, and stopped to wish her well.

Chyrvonaje 2014.  Чырвонае 2014 г.

Photos of the Day for July 22, 2014

Road to Polesia.  Дарога на Палесьсе.

Rogue beavers at work, Sosny 2014.  Beavers can gnaw through trees like these in a couple of hours, in this case ruining part of a windbreak.

Сляды баброў, Сосны 2014 г.

Photo of the Day for July 21, 2014

Road to Polesia.  Дарога на Палесьсе.

After photographing the new church under construction in Khatljany, I went to Father Vital’s home to give him copies of photos I had taken of his former church in Slavjensk.  He was out on a pastoral round, so I left the photos and greetings with his son.

A stork flying near the traveller’s path is a sign the journey will go well.

Khatljany 2014.  Хатляны 2014 г.

Photos of the Day for July 20, 2014

Road to Polesia.  Дарога на Палесьсе.

Even after 75 round trips during the past eight years from Mjensk to Polesia, the road through Slutsk and Ljuban’ reveals itself to the photographer in new and wondrous ways each time.  See, for instance, the photos of the day for February 11-13, 16 and 19, 2013.

The photos of the day for the next two weeks chronicle the surprises and old scenes freshly-perceived along this route on an afternoon journey at the end of April.

The journey included a slight detour from the main Mjensk-Slutsk highway to Khatljany, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) south of Mjensk.  A few days previously, on a photo excursion to the west of Mjensk, I had stopped to chat with three ladies, who told me how much they missed their former priest in Slavjensk (photos of the day for July 15-16, 2014).  Father Vital’ had been appointed to Khatljany; after his arrival the historic wooden church in Khatliany had burned down in January 2013.  He was now working mightily and remarkably swiftly to rebuild it, they said.

It can take years to build or rebuild a church.  Thus the progress to date on rebuilding the church is extraordinary, although not surprising, given that Father Vital’ is from Rubjel’, the font of scores of outstanding priests serving throughout Belarus and farther afield.

Fragment of the porch of the old church which survived the January 2013 fire, with new church under construction in background.  Khatljany 2014.  Частка ганкі згарэлай царквы.  На фоне будуецца новая царква.  Хатляны 2014 г.

Layer-by-layer construction of the new dome.  Будаўніцтва новага купала.

 

Photo of the Day for July 19, 2014

The roots of the Belarusian nation:  photo excursion to ethnonyms of the Valozhyn District (Vjalikaja Dajnava and Zhomajdz’).  Карані беларускай нацыі:  вандроўка па этнонімах Валожыншчыны (Вялікая Дайнава й Жомайдзь).

Zhomajdz’ (Valozhyn District) 2014.  Жомайдзь (Валожынскі раён) 2014 г.

Photo of the Day for July 18, 2014

The roots of the Belarusian nation:  photo excursion to ethnonyms of the Valozhyn District (Vjalikaja Dajnava and Zhomajdz’).  Карані беларускай нацыі:  вандроўка па этнонімах Валожыншчыны (Вялікая Дайнава й Жомайдзь).

Zhomajdz’ (Valozhyn District) 2014.  Жомайдзь (Валожынскі раён) 2014 г.

Photo of the Day for July 17, 2014

The roots of the Belarusian nation:  photo excursion to ethnonyms of the Valozhyn District (Vjalikaja Dajnava and Zhomajdz’).  Карані беларускай нацыі:  вандроўка па этнонімах Валожыншчыны (Вялікая Дайнава й Жомайдзь).

Zhomajdz’ in Valozhyn District is one of two so-named villages in Belarus; the photo of the day for July 1 was from the other Zhomajdz’, in Kletsk District.

The modern-day descendants of the Baltic tribe of the Zhamojty (Zhemajty, Zhmudz’, Samogitians) form part of the modern Lithuanian nation and are found mostly in western Lithuania.  In the Middle Ages the Zhamojty considered themselves very different from the other Baltic, and certainly from the Slavic, tribes which coalesced into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Litva — Літва — as distinct from today’s Lithuania).  Indeed, the Zhamojty held themselves apart and caused difficulties for the Grand Duke; they were the last European tribe to be Christianized.  Both villages mentioned here, although now thoroughly Belarusian, off the beaten track and their locations reflect the former separateness.

Zhomajdz’ (Valozhyn District) 2014.  Жомайдзь (Валожынскі раён) 2014 г.

Photos of the Day for July 16, 2014

Churches of Belarus (part LXIX):  Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, Slavjensk 2014.  Цэрквы Беларусі (частка LXIX):  царква Сьвятога Мікалая, Славенск 2014 г.

View of the Slavjensk church from across the Western Bjarezina River.  Від на царкву з другога берагу Заходняй Барэзіны.