Villages west of Novogrudok, Belarus (2011)
Osova, and Radziuki are small villages west of Novogrudok
and north of Baranovichi. The villages are surrounded by
vast forests, all bright with autumn colors as September
transitioned into October in 2011.
Until 1918, the villages were in the volost (township) of Koshelevskaya, which was in the uyezd (district) of Novogrudok, which was in the guberniya (province) of Minsk. The system of villages > volosts > uyezds > guberniya existed from 1843 until 1918.
By 2011, the area is part of the oblast of Grodno (also called "Hrodna"). Within the oblast, at least Morozovichi and Dubatovka are part of the region of Dyatlovo.
In that part of the world, borders changed, rulers changed, dominate religions changed, dominate languages changed, alphabets changed, monetary systems changed, and systems of government changed. But the land always remained the same, through the ever changing society and controlling powers.
Morozovichi is at 53.5333 North and 25.5667 East (N 53.5333 E 25.5667). It is 19 kilometers west of Novogrudok (11.8 miles); 54 kilometers north of Baranovichi (33.5 miles), and 43 kilometers south of Lida (26.7 miles). Of the four villages, Morozovichi is the farthest and most directly west of Novogrudok. Dubatovka is south of the line between Novogrudok and Morozovichi; Osova is north of the line.
Entry way to the village of Morozovichi.
The far left photo has the word "Morozovichi" in Belarusan in the Cyrillic alphabet. Near the sign is a road-side cross. And near those two is the tall tower in the photo on the right. That's a tower for mobile telephones.
|The village of
Morozovichi has 30 residents -- except for during winter
when many of those residents move in with adult children
who live in nearby towns or cities. As with the other
villages I was at, the village has electricity. Most
people have television sets. Most people have mobile
phones. (In Europe, they are "mobile phones,"
not "cell phones.") Heat comes from wood
burning stoves. Water comes from wells on each property.
And people do their business in outside privies.
Photo below: Remains of Morozovichskaya Rozhdestvo Bogoroditskaya Church.
All that remains of the Morozovichskaya Rozhdestove Bogoroditskaya Church are the four steps in the photograph. The church was an Orthodox church.
|The set of steps, in the
midst the woods, is all that remains of the church. Four
steps, about seven feet wide. It was an Orthodox church.
In 1943, the partisans came to the villagers with the
news that the Soviets had given orders that the church
was to be destroyed in a "scorched earth"
policy, to prevent the advancing Germans from using the
building for their benefit. The church members had
warning of no more than a few hours. They salvaged icons
and records, and they torched the building themselves.
What records were salvaged are held by the National
Historical Archive of Belarus, in the nation's capital
city of Minsk.
Photo below: Cemetery in the woods in Morozovichi.
The cemetery is in the woods that surround the former site of the Morozovichskaya Rozhdestvo Bogoroditskaya Church, an Orthodox church.
Scene in Morozovichi. Woman walking a cow.
That is the one road that runs through the village of Morozovichi.
|Photos below: Houses, gardens, and the cobblestone road in Morozovichi.|
|Photo below: A lady of Morozovichi who wondered who I was.|
|If someone walked down my
street, photographing every house and garden, I'd wonder
who she was also. This lady came over and asked in
Belarusan who the heck I was. My guide explained, and the
lady's face turned to a smile. I asked if I could
photograph her, and she agreed.
Photo below: Three women in Morozovichi.
|The photo was taken with their permission. The two ladies to the left are from the village of Morozovichi. The lady on the right is from the village of Dubatovka. They were casually dressed for working in their flower gardens, and some of the flowers in the above pictures are the result of their efforts.|
|Photo below: Graveyard in the village of Dubatovka.|
|The graveyard is in the
woods. These gravesites are at the front of the
graveyard. Several of the gravesites have little fences
around them. Determining the true number of burials in
that cemetery is impossible. There are about 30 markers
in the cemetery, but not all gravesites would have
markers, and some markers would be for more than one
person, and old wooden markers would have returned to the
earth. The burial custom in that area is more inline with
"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. From dust we come; to
dust we return." Bodies are not embalmed (an
American custom that poisons the earth); bodies are
buried in simple wooden coffins and buried directly into
the ground, rather than in concrete vaults as has become
the custom in the USA.
Photo below: Graveyard in the village of Dubatovka, seen from road.
|The front portion of the
graveyard is barely seen in this photo. Look across the
grass, then across the plowed field, then at the tree
line. There are some white stones visible in about the
center of the photo.
Photo below: Taisia, 87, of the village of Dubatovka.
|Taisia is the lady who
walked the visitors back to the graveyard in Dubatovka.
She is 87 and has lived in the village since she was a
little girl. Her father had traveled to Pittsburgh and
earned enough money to return to Belarus and buy land.
When the Communists took over, they took the land.
Taisa's father learned to say one phrase in English
perfectly: "God damned son of a bitch!"
At 87, Taisia can quote her father's words, and they come
out in perfect English, with just the right intonation.
She knows no other English. After she walked her visitors
to the graveyard -- a goodly distance for even a
middle-aged woman -- Taisia invited us in for
"chai," which is tea. I hesitated, but sensed
that she would be offended if I refused. We entered her
home for tea; we were served tea, a beets & herring
mold, carrot & garlic salad, cheese, bread &
butter, store-bought cookies, and vodka! Taisia survives
off a $75 monthly pension. When I pressed a 100,000 ruble
note into her hand as I bid adieu ($13.40 American), she
tried to refuse.
The village of Dubatovka has nine residents during the good months -- eight old women and one old man. When the weather gets cold, Taisia will go to stay with her daughter, in a nearby town.
Photo below: Taisia's house.
|Photo below: Taisia's garden and yard, next to her house.|
|Photo below: The
sign says "Osava."
Osova seemed to be about the size of the village of Morozovichi, but it seemed to have fewer people living in the houses.
|Photos below: Houses and scenes from Osova.|
|Photo below: Maria and her nephew, Dima.|
|Maria is 85. She lives in
the village of Osova and had never seen an American
before. Her nephew, Dima, took us to his aunt when he saw
me and my guide trying to pick apples from trees in an
open field. He said that his aunt had many apples that we
could have. Dima works on the railroad in Baranovichi.
When we saw Maria, the question was, "Is that your
mother?" Dima said, "No, my aunt." Maria
answered in Russian, but I could understand her words:
"I've raised you just like a mother! And now you pay
no attention to me!" Maria sent us on our way with a
bag of apples. I offered a handshake, and Maria made
clear that we would part with a hug. The building behind
her is a small barn, and the building in the left of the
photo is another out-building. Maria's house cannot be
seen in the photo.
Photos below: Whimsy at a house in Osova.
|Photo below: The
sign says Radziuki.
The sign appears to give times when a bus comes through the area, twice a day. The village of Radziuki has six residents. Two live in one house; two live in another house. I do not know whether the last two live together or in separate houses.
|Photo below: Vasili Davlud, 72, of the village of Radziuki.|
|Vasili is son of Fiodor,
who was son of Liavon; Liavon was from the village of
Noviny. Vasili and his wife live in a house that is not
accessible by road. We reached it by walking across a
recently cut corn field. They do, however, have
electricity, a mobile phone, and a television. They do
their shopping from an "auto-magazine" that
comes by once a week. An "auto-magazine" is a
store-on-wheels for people living in remote areas.
Photo below: Vasili Davlud, October 1, 2011.
|My guide in the villages
was Tamara Vershitskaya, to whom I owe great thanks.
From the villages, I went to Mir Castle.