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Nadia - Village Farmer

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In the Kostroma region I met with many villagers, but I'll always remember Nadia because she was different from the rest. First, she was younger than most of the other residents, who were typically pensioners. Second, she greeted me with hospitality that exceeded all expectations. Our car pulled up to the house, and out walked a pleasant, smiling woman carrying food. Sitting on the decorative cloth is fresh baked bread and dipping salt.

Nadia and I share many characteristics - a strong, independent and hard working woman. She doesn't sit around, waiting for a man to come along and rescue her, pay all her bills, or carry her off into the sunset. Each day, she rises early, goes out into the fields and engages in hard labor, with dirt under her finger nails to prove it. Nadia - a village farmer, the proud owner of many acres of farmland from which all of her family's material wealth and pride have arisen...

1. Bread and black salt, a specialty of the Kostroma region. I'm not sure why the salt is black, but it had a strange taste. However, the bread was delicious, and the decorative serving spoon I like very much. I collect these as souvenirs from a lot of Russian cities, and even have a few from Kyiv.

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2. I visited Nadia after spending most of the day in the village of Astashova. She lives only a few kilometers away in a neighboring area, and it's necessary to cross an old bridge to reach the farm. We made a quick stop to stare at all the frozen wonder along the way...of course, in winter Russia it's necessary to watch where you're walking at all times for fear of slipping on ice or sinking into a huge mound of snow. I have not yet mastered this skill.

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3. Lovely wooden house in the forest, well maintained and colorful.

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4. Watch dog! I noticed on this journey that Russian dogs are very aggressive! Why? Every single time I encountered one angry growls ensued, mean face, and intense barking. The latter is ordinary behavior for almost all dogs, but none of the village canines were playful. Pity, because I typically love dogs and am not frightened of them.

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5. Nadia stood in the open, frozen field and told us everything about her life. She's married, but spends most of her days at the farm alone while her husband goes to work. Nadia's job is to plant, sow and toil the land. Pointing to endless acres of snowy ground, she explained that this is where the potatoes grow, the main source of income for her family. Each year, they sell several tons of the vegetable for profit.

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6. The farm also houses a few dozen animals for which Nadia cares, stored in a separate barn on the property. My mom grew up on a farm as a child, so for me there's no novelty in these farm creatures. I see them frequently in rural Virginia, and even milked a cow in Vermont! :)

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7. They're especially cute when they pose and smile for the camera.

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8. I think my father would be in heaven here, because he loves all sorts of tractors. Now they sit immobile, but when the spring thaw melts the snow, they will serve as normal transport for Nadia.

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9. After a tour of the farm, it was time to go inside for yet another meal. In the village, guests are well fed!

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10. Nadia laid out a huge feast, with everything on the table directly pulled from the land. I think this is typical when you're eating at the home of a farmer, no matter the country. Very tasty water with some type of yellow, sweet fruit crushed at the bottom. I don't know what it was, but I've never seen this fruit in the USA.

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11. Meal consisted of three different kinds of mushrooms, mashed potatoes, tomatoes, shredded carrots, and some type of meat patty.

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12. Oh, and the one Russian food I simply can't eat! Again, this meat in jelly! When I first expressed my dislike for kholodets, everyone told me the taste was awful because I ate it in a cheap cafe. Readers assured me I would like this traditional dish if a native Russian made it for me in their home. The day arrived, and I still don't like it! :)) So salty and an unpleasant texture. Everything else was delicious.

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Unfortunately, there were language barriers so it was difficult to communicate at the dinner table but Alexander tried to translate for us. Nadia conveyed to us that she's worked hard her entire life, and has absolutely no desire to leave the village. Her soul is tied to the motherland, the farm on which she works each day, and her roots are deeply entrenched in the region. She can't understand other villagers who live in dirt, don't take control of their own lives or destinies, nor make any effort to improve their surroundings.

13. I respect this woman very much. She maintains a sense of femininity, despite the fact that she's engaged in work typically handled by a man. She contributes equally to the family, has a sense of self-pride and accomplishment, and a wonderful husband with whom she shares everything. Fathers - I think this is the best lesson you can teach your young daughters. To be able to care for and financially support herself. I don't think it's some radical feminist statement to say this. To sit, hoping someone will come along and save you, is never a healthy way to live. Better to have a man for the right reasons - for companionship, emotional support and encouragement, love, passion, sex...not his wallet. At the end of the night, when Nadia's husband returned home from work, I could tell this is the type of relationship they have. Pure and I anticipate life lasting. Do you see it also? I wasn't fast enought to snap a shot, but here's a very candid and heartfelt photo Alexander took.

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14. When we were departing, she pulled out an old family album eager to show me snapshots of her life. I love these traditional, old school albums and still try to make them from each journey. Probably a sign of my old age, but I like to pick up something tangible, turn the pages, and relive memories from the past. A quick glimpse of her parents, wedding, and early version of the farm, and the men were anxious to leave. So, the nostalgic photo album was closed, and we left, onward to visit the last village house of the night.

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There's one thing I found very puzzling about Nadia, and I'll never forget her answer to a simple question I posed. It was clear her love for Russia is deep, a real patriot, yet when I asked her why she loves Russia her answer was one word - "because." I couldn't understand it honestly. I asked her again to name one reason why she loves the country and she couldn't articulate a single thing. Again, "just because." As an American patriot, I can tell you numerous reasons why I love my country and am tied to it. So, this vague answer - "because" - I will never understand. For me, it's an extremely strange response.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about the Kostroma region and a big report on all the other villagers I met. Tell me - why do you love Russia?


Comments

( 277 comments — Leave a comment )
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olgor
Mar. 29th, 2015 04:33 am (UTC)
I would love to try to explain. (I am not sure, but I believe by "because" she meant "just like that".) That means - unconditionally. Love does not need a reason or condition (answering a question which starts why, usually assumes some cause or reason) . I just love this country, that's it. And nothing else matters. :)

Edited at 2015-03-29 04:34 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)
Hmm..interesting explanation. But why do you love anything, including a woman? There are reasons. :) She's beautiful, smart, intelligent, makes you feel a certain way... I think it's the same for love of country, but maybe I have a strange viewpoint. :)
(no subject) - olgor - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - olgor - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - romikchef - Mar. 29th, 2015 07:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 02:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
syrya
Mar. 29th, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
" I noticed on this journey that Russian dogs are very aggressive!"
In America dogs are train not to be aggressive, if dog bite somebody owner will pay(or go to prison). nice story
If you ever happened to be in San Francisco let me know.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 04:59 am (UTC)
I'll be on the West Coast in early May for work, but in the San Diego area. I love San Francisco. :) What happens if a dog bites you in Russia, causing serious injuries? Certainly there must be some legal recourse for the victim?
(no subject) - syrya - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nikolka22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nikolka22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
z80
Mar. 29th, 2015 04:57 am (UTC)
'Hope'? You can't just directly translate names like that :)
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:01 am (UTC)
In Russian her name is " Надежда." English translation is "Hope." But maybe it's proper to call her "Nadia"?? Now I'm confused. :))

Edited at 2015-03-29 05:12 am (UTC)
(no subject) - z80 - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - z80 - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:17 am (UTC) - Expand
ex_juan_gan
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:02 am (UTC)
Wow. "Why are Russian dogs so aggressive!" We still, after 17 years, can't exactly believe American dogs are so peaceful!
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:04 am (UTC)
Mean dogs are everywhere, but in general American dogs are better behaved and more playful. At least, based on my personal experience. I'm a dog lover, so it takes a lot for me to be scared of canines. Maybe it's just because village dogs are less accustomed to seeing strangers. For city pets, it's more common to be around a lot of different people.
(no subject) - sergeyeva - Mar. 29th, 2015 07:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 02:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - andruhon - Mar. 29th, 2015 07:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_juan_gan - Mar. 29th, 2015 06:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
kyler_rus
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:11 am (UTC)
Я тоже терпеть не могу холодец. :)
Ужасное блюдо.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:24 am (UTC)
И оливье? :)
(no subject) - kyler_rus - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - syrya - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 06:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bblack_78 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bblack_78 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blog_niochem - Mar. 29th, 2015 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 30th, 2015 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blog_niochem - Mar. 31st, 2015 06:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 31st, 2015 02:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bblack_78 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
alexeykostylev
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:14 am (UTC)
I think olgor is right - its unconditional love. Why do we love our parents? If parents are good persons we can enumerate the reasons (but it wouldnt be the real reason for loving them anyway), if not - we just can say "because"
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:28 am (UTC)
I understand the feeling of unconditional love for a human, but not a country. A country is not a person, though it's made up of people. Anyway, her answer was very vague to me. Maybe she didn't want to express her feelings to a stranger? Russians are typically more guarded in this way.
(no subject) - alexeykostylev - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 05:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Mar. 29th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
megawiz
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:36 am (UTC)
> yellow, sweet fruit crushed at the bottom. I don't know what it was
It was sea buckthorn (Hippophae) named oblepikha in Russia. Oblepikha means "sticking round"
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:42 am (UTC)
Thanks! I've never heard of it! Now I will try to find this food in a U.S. market. :)
(no subject) - Onosha Ugory - Jan. 14th, 2017 04:20 am (UTC) - Expand
vasionok
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:48 am (UTC)
I also think that it is incorrect to ask why you love something. You can ask what you like in it, but love is the end in itself. Say, if you love US because of the liberties you can enjoy there, then you love the liberties or their availability, not the US. Love is something you feel directly, it is not a logical construction.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, which is insightful. Sometimes readers make me question my own thoughts, or see things in a new way. This is a good thing! :)
egorov
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:51 am (UTC)
like-like!
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:59 am (UTC)
Thanks!
fesma94
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:51 am (UTC)
Hippophae, the sea-buckthorns, are deciduous shrubs in the family Elaeagnaceae. The name sea-buckthorn may be hyphenated[1] to avoid confusion with the buckthorns (Rhamnus, family Rhamnaceae). It is also referred to as sandthorn, sallowthorn,[2] or seaberry ( wiki) . I like it ,and it is healthy drink, not like Coca-cola :-)
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:55 am (UTC)
I don't drink Coke, or any sodas for the past 20 years. :) I agree, the drink is very good and refreshing. Now I'm on a quest to find these seaberries at a local store.
perycalypsis
Mar. 29th, 2015 05:59 am (UTC)
With the family name like yours one must belong to some highlanders klan. And to love it more than your country.
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:06 am (UTC)
First and last name are indicative of my Irish roots.
(no subject) - perycalypsis - Mar. 29th, 2015 06:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 06:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - perycalypsis - Mar. 29th, 2015 06:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_nimaida - Mar. 29th, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_nimaida - Mar. 29th, 2015 07:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
mumuka
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:17 am (UTC)
wonderful story
because - it is very common answer in Russia, not about love only, about many things. Because in this case means: it is like we love our mothers, real love doesnt have any reason, we love not for something, when we love, we just love. We even have adage: "We love not for something, we love despite everything".

in russian culture this question about "for what u love something or someone" sometimes even can be considered as humaliatining, cause we strong believe real love is so big anf absolutely that it doesnt need reasons
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:21 am (UTC)
Yes, it seems based on reader responses so far that there's some cultural differences at play here. So, thanks for your input. I can't understand or know all these nuances of Russian mentality or culture, but readers always educate me with their inside perspective. :) Have a nice day!
(no subject) - mumuka - Mar. 30th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC) - Expand
razumovsac
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:29 am (UTC)
Stop commenting on your own comment to get to the top
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:31 am (UTC)
What are you talking about? I'm responding to reader's comments, same as always. I don't ignore my readers, like a lot of other bloggers do.
razumovsac
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:30 am (UTC)
(no subject) - soulorussia - Mar. 29th, 2015 07:05 am (UTC) - Expand
dorli87
Mar. 29th, 2015 06:36 am (UTC)
Russian dog in the villages are aggressive because they are not pets. They are guards.
About love:
Но люблю мою грешную землю, потому что иной не видал.
Russians have no reasons to love their country, thas why you obtained such strange answer
peacetraveler22
Mar. 29th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC)
What do you mean "Russians have no reasons to love their country?" You can't think of one good thing about Russia?
(no subject) - dorli87 - Mar. 29th, 2015 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorli87 - Mar. 29th, 2015 03:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 03:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorli87 - Mar. 29th, 2015 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Mar. 29th, 2015 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorli87 - Mar. 29th, 2015 04:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
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