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pictures by Layla & Sasha
text by Layla

Moral of the story:

Nowhere to hide from democracy. It will haunt you, even without television, technology – in the most primitive and blissful of paradises, the candidates will descend upon you from the beyond, manifesting their true face and message through the tent. During the white nights, the candidates gleam through.

And through the dusk, unseen and unknown forces are

Exorcising the candidate from the forest.

Paradise Regained.

Fadei and Makar.

Fadei is pensive, silent, and strong. I remember when he wasn’t a year old yet, he was already walking around with a hammer in his hand, hammering nails about the art workshop in their wooden house in the centre of Tver.

A conversation I overheard this summer:

Fadei: I am the boss here.
Liouba: Why?
Fadei: Because I am a boy.
Liouba: No. I am the boss.
Fadei: Why?
Liouba: Because I am a girl.
Fadei: Bah. Girls are not bosses. Look, I’m a bogatyr miltsov.org/travel/photosa powerful character from Russian legends who could single-handedly beat whole armies of foe).
Liouba: Bah. Like you haven’t heard of bogatyrkas. I am bogatyrka Mikulishna. And no bogatyr could ever beat her because not only was she strong; she was smart!
Fadei: O.k. Let’s both be bosses then.

And so, power was divided. In the meantime, Makar talked about God and brought me flowers. Looking deep into my eyes with his sky-blue eyes: “this is for you, mama,” and would hand me a flower at a time.

Putting the children to sleep at night, “tell me the Guardian-Angel, mama,” Makar would say softly.

On the second day of our sojourn in paradise, Makar came running, announcing excitedly:
“I saw a snake in the grass, but it ran away real quick”.

We went to look at that spot and found dragonflies.
“What did it look like?” we asked Makar.
“Grey and fast”
“No, it must have been a mouse”.

On the next day, Makar comes again:
“I saw a snake in the grass in the water we’re swimming.”
“What did it look like?”
“It was long, quick, and it swam away.”
“No, that must have been a fish.”

On the next day, Makar speaks again:
“I saw a viper near our tent and it quickly took off into the woods.”
“What did it look like?”

We were about to joke with Makar and tell him that this time it was a hare, but then Sasha’s yell summoned us to where he was standing. and we realised, what is paradise without a serpent?
Sasha had captured a viper with the tee-end of his stick and we all studied it carefully. Then we let it go, without harming it.

Liouba and Makar. We told the kids to put on their shoes and decided to go for a walk in the woods. Liouba kept asking me to take a picture of her with the bouquet of flowers she had picked. Makar kept watching the procedure carefully, not uttering a word.

Finally, he said: “Mama, take a picture of me, too”

We discovered that the area was inhabited by countless vipers. Miraculously miltsov.org/travel/photosaccording to civilised knowledge), not one of them had attacked us during our stay. We thanked them for not harming us. We were grateful to the place and as we prepared to leave, pondered about meaning and knowledge of wilderness, of danger, of snakes, and of cosmic truth that we have brought with us to this island. But the land lived with its own knowledge and truth, and as long as we did not interfere with its purpose, it left our purpose, which is our children, in peace.
This, truly, was a paradise. It was our turn to give it its peace. Paradise Left in Peace.

Before loading the kayaks, we discovered two more local inhabitants inside.

Mighty Liouba, bossing.

Row-row-row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

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A panorama of Babje


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