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Kizhi at first sight
russian version

Second time at this summer I have the case to break free and get to know the unique Karelian island, this time - in Lake Onega. On the eve of departure the thought crept into my mind that I had not prepared for the upcoming journey: not searched the possible perspectives, views, not looked at the weather forecast etc. But these incipient fuss soon was stopped by the inner voice: damn, what matter how and what will be there - relax and go with joy to the long-awaited unknown!

Almost everyone who comes here are usually arrive only for a few hours. And it despite the fact that visitors of  the Kizhi Ensemble are even more than the Valaam archipelago. There are no hotels on the island, so there are none of the ordinary visitors who stay overnight, without being able to not in a hurry. I have found out all about it by arriving on the island. It turns out that I was very lucky to come here for a "business trip" at least for a brief time. Even now, when I write these lines, I distinctly understand what luck generally accompanied me throughout this little trip.

So our group arrived at the Kizhi for the quite specific reason - the 300th anniversary of the "chief" of the local churches: the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Saviour.


This amazing construction including cupolas and crosses was built of wood only with no nails using one axe and chisel for the whole construction. It is currently in the process of restoration, which is expected to be completed by 2018. So now the church is not what it used to see: approximately in the middle of the structure there is a hole: craftsmen sort rotten logs, painstaking looking for substitute in all the forests of Karelia.


With dispatch we went to the center of the open-air museum, there were clouded very opportunely, creating an interesting light pattern. And now we stand on The Bell Tower of the Kizhi Pogost, the bells sound in full - the creative session of bell ringers is held during the festival “Transfiguration”. From the height I quickly got acquainted with the nearby territory and the scale, immediately realizing that I want to go there. By the way first vivid impression is not long in coming: while entrance to any wooden building there is a staunchly Russian bath smell, which can not be confused if once had experienced before. And this despite the fact that there is no baths in buildings (and, apparently, was not). This special air flavor permanently present in every object of wooden architecture, it is very nice to breathe, it's some native, Russian, from the depths of the past.


Fragrant effect probably added euphoria to my relaxed state, born because of the sleepless night full of fun in Petrozavodsk. After that, every happenings are already in some leisurely, smiling and gracious.

Going down to the ground, I went for a walk around the neighborhood with a camera, looking for frames in a neat landscape, where even though it seems that the objects are placed by chance, but everything is done with some thoughtful taste and craving for beauty. Therefore the sense of beauty did not leave me here and even progressed while I studied the island. At first I walked around the main tourist spots, though I found out about it later. It turned out that the "meteor" that we used was the first in the day, and I managed to make a few shots in a relatively quiet without people presence in the frame.


Also pretty soon I found confirmation of my conjecture that almost all the chapels, houses, mills - were brought to the island from the Karelian villages. Exception - the pogost and the main Beauty. But this a la "unauthentic" does not spoil a positive impression of the visual enjoyment, at least It did not happen with me. Everything looks very harmonious and natural.


Two hours passed, the number of people around increased: it dawned on me that started a typical "business day" on Kizhi, seems that boats become arriving. The sun came out from behind the clouds, sky cleared up, warming. All said that it was time to take a break. In appendage I found raspberry bush and tasted the sweet berries, then moved back - to the pogost, to colleagues. But we're constantly fail to meet with the guys, because my walking pace did not coincide with their working rhythm. Also impressions of what we see are different. The reason is clear: their serious noblesse and attitude to work suppose to critical perception of reality. I was like in a different dimension, though nearby, on the same land.


After another some time I was worn out, the backpack weight as if increased by half, and I sat down to rest under the walls of the Pogost, putting the camera near on the grass. Not far away small national ensemble rehearsed the festive performance, caressing my ears with harmonious women's choir accompanied by the accordion. Soon they took the road to the pogost, and the accordionist passing by, lingered near me with a smile, and after little questioning wished me luck. It was easy and natural. The soul rejoices from such fleeting unexpected warm meetings. On Kizhi I met a surprising amount of good-natured people and smiles at all. And these was only the first of its kind.

And here is the next, do not make her wait. We briefly saw her in the morning, she is from the press service of the museum and helped my collegues to carry out their ideas and cases. Tatiana. A little later I realized that she is a brilliant organizer, fine, thoughtful, kind person full of enthusiasm. In the meantime, we met again and made a leisurely conversation about what interesting me in general, and on the Kizhi in particular. She confided about the island enthusiastically, with sparks in the eyes, from time to time noting her bias, but without terrible piety, as often happens. It is obvious that this woman loves what she does and does it with passion. Thanks to Tatiana's cordiality, attention and initiative the shank of the day was becoming more beautiful with every passing hour. Colleagues joined and together we detoured by foot along the already known part of the island, but this time with an interesting storyteller. I am constantly distracted from this company and returned to it, looking for new pictures of familiar landscapes, keeping my eye in visual inventiveness.


Then all of us were driven to the opposite part of the island in the carriage, which was pulling by a tired dappled horse. I "hitch-hiked" them already on the road, got the last seat onboard trying not to rumple someone with my backpack. Without hesitation I sat down to coachman's seat next to the carter. Cabman - a puny girl, also greeted me with a smile despite the fact that I swiftly broke decorum when not asking permission to close physical contact. On the way we had a little conversation, in particular I learned that everyone who lives on the island of Kizhi works in the Museum. To be honest I didn't suspect that there is a housing and local inhabitants on the island. At once we were told that near is the highest point of Kizhi, and obvious desire immediately conceived in me. We covered with a tour of all two villages of the island: Vasil'evo and Yamka. It turns out that our night's lodging was in the second one. And here we landed off with promises to arrange an evening Russian vapor bath. Now is free time.


After assessing the remaining time till sunset I cursorily familiarized with the nearby area. Next to the house where our temporary shelter was, there is a wide wooden pier and I decided to take a deep breath and to gather up my courage before the new sprint. But my solitude was short lived and after a few minutes I was surrounded by chatter, richly flavored with indignation against harsh reality. Don't want to speak ill of my colleagues, they're nice guys, just have quite different view to the present. For example, a typical rural conditions, which so angered the fans of comfort, for me is just nostalgia for a bygone childhood.

So, after having lounged at the same time under the sun and on the wooden decking of the pier, I moved to the way. Naturally, at first to the highest point of the island, on hill Nar'ina, where the chapel is situated. From afar I noticed that there are people on the porch. I only had time to say "Hello", as I immediately was offered to go upstairs. It's funny, even on Kizhi I've been on the roof. Made my best bow, I happily went upstairs to the belfry. There I was captivated by surrounded panorama.


The view was interesting, but rather to the eye than for a camera. While looking at the landscape, trying to capture it just in case, I had a conversation opened from the back. Guessing that this is the same man who called me here, I'm not looking back continued to shoot and communicate. And when I turned - I was like blinded: my aunt! what a smile! and his bright, light eyes, almost transparent - a kind of lump positively charged particles. While packing equipment he told me that helps his father at the recording studio, they are from Petrozavodsk, came here to celebrations for the ringing of bells of the various churches and chapels, and will record special edition - music disc. At this time there is another man appeared out of the hatch, bearded, long-haired, concentrated. He obviously is not the first time here: in a moment as habitual in his hands arise the ropes, leading to the tongues of bells. Music sounded: so close, so loud, but not to the limit of the membranes, exactly for the total effect. In time the belfry began to sway, I pressed back against the nearest corner, so as not to disturb the master. Words don't pick up - he played like a God! I would never have thought that anybody could SUCH play a similar-simple musical instrument, evoking so fantastic melody of them.


And this is the time to go down. On the ground it turned out that the bell-ringer was just passing by and decided to give a look-in when noticed people here. Clap! And now there is noone as if there had never been. I stand alone, zonked on what happened to me in the last few minutes. I remembered that I had not even been walking around the highest point of Kizhi, but had already visited even higher.


I looked around, walked around the Chapel of the Vernicle. Already can not believe that I had just been on it. Everything is as in a dream.


Whew, went further. Here is a very different picture: silence, not a soul, only the road reminds that there are people here. In a relaxed manner I passed the rest of time until the twilight falling brown. It was interesting for me to walk to the other end of the island, and I did. And though I have not met such, you know as they say, a screaming landscapes or indisputable beauty, but the overall impression was very positive. In such places the soul rests: subtly perfect around, everything is plain, native, Russian.



For two and a half hours I had time to reach the target edge and return back again to that chapel, from where I began to study the rest of the island. During this time I participated in several funny conversations between colleagues, overheard interesting tour guides, often wandered through the thickets of grass, took a little pictures and was breathing a lot of heady air.


Long day had smoothly reached its close, and during it I walked almost the entire Kizhi, which yesterday was a mystery to me. Took the last shot in quite dark, I went to the Yamka, met a curious polecat on the road, who wasn't scared and even come near carefully considering the orthograde giant.


Then there was a cheerful noisy Russian vapor bath, an unforgettable delight of refreshing up in Lake Onega, dinner and a great big hunk of red-orange moon over the water. Astounding warm weather, surprisingly no mosquitos for the entire evening, and a smooth transition into sleep during starry night, past one o'clock. Flopped to the bed without undressing - in a couple of hours to get up ... And now it's time - 4:00 am.

Brain is actively resisted for some time, not giving my body to fall out of nothingness. Somehow I found myself standing in the fresh morning air. There was already quite bright and clear. I even thought that photographer catches nothing today in these places. And here an eye accidentally spotted something white and large behind the hut. Holy cow! It's fog. I was reborn at once, shook off the sleep, ran for a backpack and - in a way.


Following the bunch of translucent particles, the next two hours I wandered in saturated air and bushes, which often turned out to be till the throat. Dense fog permeated my whole being, and dissolving in it I slowly traveled across this fabulous possessions, looking for beauty.


Yes, of course it is one of my favorite states of nature, its highest mysticism. The first time I saw the fog so close: the sun's rays were refracted in such a manner that at arm's length could be observed how the waves of multicolored droplets of water vapor moves in response to light.


Another striking impression - ocean of spider's web, I have never seen so much in my life. Moisture clinged to each and every without exception, clearly outlining the contours of millions of various networks. Very unusual sight - no free meter as far as the eye can reach.


And here with the first rays of the sun I met a woman on a bicycle. I told her, "Good morning!" She told me "Good!" And after looking around she immediately added: "Yes, in fact, the morning is really good today!"


All this morning I spent around the already familiar hill - "place of power" as it is called. Movements were few, words in my head - even less. And whether it's important, in any case it is only the interpretation of sensations. I clearly noted one thing at that time: my mind tried in vain to pick words, letters, symbols, definitions that could describe what my heart feels without any confusion. But this did not happen. Soul was filled with happyness, and the brain - empty, in prostration...


In this state, I walked up to complete exhaustion. By the time the sun had risen quite high, dissolving the last remnants of terrestrial clouds. My little trip ended on that same mountain, I made my closing frame toward the overgrown part of the island and went to the pier to dry.


Here in the open air, hot air flooded, I sprawled on the smooth logs with tremendous satisfaction from everything that happened to me in the last 24h, and even what is happening now, when there are so many positive charges in me, so I think I could compete with the sun in greater brightness :) It's an amazing feeling when suddenly the whole soul realize totally how true this simple verity: the world is such, what eyes you look at him. Yes, today is definitely a great day to live!


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