среда, 13 мая 2009 г.
Meshera is a wonderland of woods and swamps, still rivers and numerous lakes — a sanctuary in the heart of Russia. It spans several regions: Moscow, Vladimir and Ryazan, and lies snug between the rivers Oka and Klyazma. At one time these woody lowlands were inhabited by a Finno-Ugric tribe called Meshera – and this is where this vast territory derived its name from.
Meshera isn’t noted for any striking lush beauty, but it possesses a charm that lures one. As a result all who have every visited the area tend to be drawn back again and again. Famous Russian writer Konstantin Paustovsky who fell in love with the muted beauty of the place, wrote an inspired novel about it — “Meshera Side” – a book that does credit to the enchantment of the region better than any travel guide.
What can one see in Meshera? Flowering or cut meadows, pine groves, overgrown woodland ponds, stacks of sweet-smelling warm hay, Meshera has sprawling swamps, overgrown with aspen and alder, solitary, darkened with age cottages of the foresters, sands and junipers, flocks of cranes…
…Besides rivers, the Meshera region has many canals, dug as part of efforts to drain the swamplands. Their banks are inhabited by river-rats, who dig their holes deep in the riverbank. There are some rats whose coats are completely grey with age. If you observe a hole, you will see the rat catching fish. It emerges from its hole, dives down deep, and surfaces with a great deal of noise. In its mouth it holds a floundering silvery fish, which its swims to shore with. At times the fish is bigger that the rat, and their struggle continues for quite a while. Finally, the rat clambers up onto the bank with eyes red with rage.
Meshera is a remnant of a woodland sea in the very heart of the European part of Russia. The woods here are majestic as cathedrals. Besides pines, firs and birches grow here, with occasional rarely dispersed patches of lime, elm, oak… There are almost no roads leading through the oak groves: it’s too dangerous because of the red ants. On a hot day it’s almost impossible to pass through the groves: in an instant one is covered from head to toe in angrily stinging red ants. Harmless ant eating bears roam these places – they break the old tree stumps with their paws to get at the ant larvae.
The woods in Meshera are dense, where silence reigns and there is no breeze. The prevalent smell is of fungus… Birds flutter warily from branch to branch… An abundance of yellow boletus, sprinkled in pine needles… edible boletus popularly called ‘white’; wild strawberry and a carpet of lilac bellflowers in the meadows. By night you wander upon a lake and it looks like a black mirror.
In Meshera the lakes all have different tints of water. A majority – black, some – yellow, others – grey, and still others – slightly bluish. This is explained by the fact that on the bottom of the lakes there are dense layers of peat – many meters thick! The older the peat – the darker the water…
There is a great diversity of fish in the lakes of Meshera. The woods offer a happy range for wild boar, elk, rabbits, foxes. At times in winter the wolves are drawn dangerously close to the villages, striking fear in folks’ hearts with their eerie howling…
The man-made sights of Meshera are chiefly located on the lowlands. Meshera is rich in clay and this boosted the local ceramics trade. Some flourished to become household names, such as Dulevo, a factory producing excellent earthenware, and the famous world-wide Gzhel ceramics with their recognizable blue and white color palette… Located on the river Gus is the largest in the country crystal factory – Gus-Hrustalny – a symbol of the local glass, like Baccarat is for France and Bohemian glass is to Czechia. The production is built around use of local pure quartz sands, which the Meshera land is rich in.
One can say so much about Meshera, the people here, their trades and crafts, but the main wealth of the area is its breathtakingly beautiful but modest nature, so peaceful and soothing. Our wonderful Russian writer Ivan Aksakov said about it: “On a green flowering bank, above the dark stillness of the river or lake, in the shade of the bushes, under a canopy of alder, all passions and undulating tempests grow still, all vain dreams scatter, all fruitless hopes – disperse. Together with the fresh, sweet air you inhale the serenity of thought, mildness of sentiments, indulgence to others and even oneself.”
Source:The Voice of Russia