Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Toystory's house

Before my journey to the Mother Land I started reading Anna Karenina. I've had that book on my "to read" list for years. It's one I'd stand in front of at bookstores or libraries debating whether I should even pick it up, as it secretly intimidated me. But with the prospects of Russian travel, and a free copy of the book, I opened the cover and dove in.

The story is compelling, Tolstoy's usage of the written word is brilliant, and the picture he painted of Russian life in the late 1800's had me thinking back on the book a number of times during my trip. Although 120 years have passed since it was written, Tolstoy captured the Russian mentality and gave a greater understanding of why Russia is the way it is right now. But reading the book and visiting the country he called home wasn't quite enough. Not when I knew he was born and raised in Tula, which was one of the stops on our list.

Although Jana, who had already gone before, and Cam, who dubbed him 'Toystory' and had no real attachment, didn't mind going we spent a few hours on Tolstoy's homestead. Again, we had to deal with the logistics of Russian guards who initially didn't want to let us on the grounds, but we prevailed. The acres of land were covered in trees and green meadows. His house was... old and historic. Nothing too noteworthy about it actually, since we were only allowed to see it from the outside, although pictures I've seen of the inside are beautiful.
The two things of note on the estate were the following: Tolstoy's raised grave (somewhat creepy if you ask me) and the tree of Love. During the final days of his life, Tolstoy packed up his things, renounced his wealth, and left for the countryside to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. He didn't make it too far, as he got ill and died at a train station in a nearby village. He was then buried on his estate in a location he had previously requested. Why they made the grave raised, however, is beyond me.

A few hundred feet away from his grave stands two intertwined trees. Somewhere down the line it was thought to be a Love tree that holds magic powers to grant one's wish of love if they walk around it three times and then place their hand on it while making their wish. Naturally we all took part... some of us more reluctantly than others on account that she thought the tree would jinx her. But now only time will tell.

1 comment:

Rachel K said...

LOVE it! I found your blog!