We went to the Yaroslavl region to the Pereslavl-Zalessky district, where for about 10 years several eco-villages have been settled at once not far from each other. Among them there are “Anastasians” who support the ideas of the series of books by V. Megre “Ringing Cedars of Russia”, there is a center of yogis who preach a healthy lifestyle, there is a settlement of family estates that are not fastened by any ideology. We decided to get acquainted with such “free artists” and find out the reasons for their move from the city to the countryside.
Sergei and Natalya Sibilev, the founders of the community of family estates “Lesnina” near the village of Rakhmanovo, Pereyaslavl-Zalessky district, called their estate “Vaya’s House”. Vaya are willow branches distributed on Palm Sunday. In the names of the lands here everyone shows imagination, the nearest neighbors, for example, called their estate “Solnyshkino”. Sergei and Natalya have a domed house on 2,5 hectares of land – almost a space structure. The average Moscow family, as they call themselves, moved here in 2010. And their global migration began with the fact that one day they came to the New Year to friends in the commonwealth of family homesteads “Blagodat”, located nearby. We saw that the snow is white, and the air is such that you can drink it, and …
“We lived “like people”, we worked hard to earn money in order to spend it no less hard,” says the head of the family, Sergei, a former military man and businessman. – Now I understand that this program is installed in all of us “by default” and eats up almost the entire resource, health, spirituality, creating only the appearance of a person, his “demo version”. We understood that it was no longer possible to live like this, argued, got angry, and did not see which way to move. Just some kind of wedge: work-shop-TV, on weekends, a movie-barbecue. The metamorphosis happened to us at the same time: we realized that it is impossible to live without this beauty, purity and the starry sky, and a hectare of our own land in an ecologically clean place cannot be compared with any urban infrastructure. And not even Megre’s ideology played a role here. I then read some of his works; in my opinion, the main idea about life in nature is simply brilliant, but in some places it is strongly “carried away”, which repels many people (although this is purely our opinion, we don’t want to offend anyone, believing that the most important human right is the right to choose, even erroneous). He clearly guessed the subconscious feelings and aspirations of people, moving them to life in family homesteads. We are completely “for”, honor to him and praise for this, but we ourselves do not want to live “according to the charter”, and we do not demand this from others.
At first, the family lived in Blagodat for six months, got acquainted with the way of life and the difficulties of the settlers. They traveled around different regions in search of their place, until they settled on neighboring lands. And then the couple took a decisive step: they closed their companies in Moscow – a printing house and an advertising agency, sold equipment and furniture, rented a house in Rakhmanovo, sent their children to a rural school and began to slowly build.
“I am delighted with the rural school, it was a discovery for me to find out what level it is,” says Natalya. – My children studied in a cool Moscow gymnasium with horses and a swimming pool. Here are teachers of the old Soviet school, wonderful people in their own right. My son had difficulties with mathematics, I went to the director of the school, she is also a teacher of mathematics, and asked me to study additionally with my child for a fee. She looked at me carefully and said: “Of course, we see Seva’s weak points, and we are already working with him additionally. And taking money for this is unworthy of the title of teacher. These people, in addition to teaching subjects, also teach attitudes towards life, family, the Teacher with a capital letter. Where did you see the headmaster of the school, together with the students, work on a subbotnik? We are not just unaccustomed to this, we have forgotten that this can be so. Now in Rakhmanovo, unfortunately, the school has closed, but in the village of Dmitrovsky there is a state school, and in Blagodat – organized by parents. My daughter goes to the state.
Natalia and Sergey have three children, the youngest is 1 year and 4 months old. And they seem to be experienced parents, but they are surprised at the family relations adopted in the village. For example, the fact that parents here are called “you”. That the man in the family is always the head. That children from an early age are accustomed to work, and this is very organic. And mutual assistance, attention to neighbors are instilled at the level of natural instincts. In winter, they get up in the morning, look – my grandmother has no path. They will go and knock on the window – alive or not, if necessary – and dig the snow, and bring food. Nobody teaches them this, it is not written on banners.
“There is no time in Moscow to even think about the meaning of life,” says Natalia. “The saddest thing is that you don’t notice how time flies. And now the children have grown up, and they turned out to have their own values, and you did not participate in this, because you worked all the time. Life on earth makes it possible to pay attention to the most important thing, what all books write about, what all songs sing about: that one must love loved ones, love one’s land. But it becomes not just words, not high pathos, but your real life. There is time here to think about God and say thank you for everything He does. You start to see the world differently. I can say about myself that I seemed to have found a new spring, as if reborn.
Both spouses say one thing: in Moscow, of course, the standard of living is higher, but here the quality of life is higher, and these are incomparable values. Quality is clean water, clean air, natural products that are bought from local residents (only cereals in the store). The Sibilevs do not yet have their own farm, as they decided to first build a house, and then acquire everything else. The head of the family Sergey earns: he deals with legal issues, working remotely. Enough to live on, since the level of spending in the village is an order of magnitude lower than in Moscow. Natalia is an artist-designer in the past, now an intelligent rural lady. Being a convinced “owl” in the city, for which an early rise meant a feat, here she easily gets up with the sun, and her biological clock has adjusted itself.
“Everything falls into place here,” Natalya says. – Despite the remoteness from the big city, I no longer feel lonely! There were some depressive moments or psychological fatigue in the city. I don’t have a single free minute here.
Their friends, acquaintances and relatives soon joined the free settlers – they began to buy neighboring lands and build houses. The settlement does not have its own rules or charter, everything is based on the principles of good neighborliness and caring attitude to the land. It doesn’t matter what religion, belief or type of diet you are – this is your own business. In fact, there are a minimum of common questions: municipal roads are cleaned all year round, electricity has been provided. The general question is to gather everyone on May 9 for a picnic to tell the children about how their grandfathers fought and to talk to each other after a long winter. That is, a minimum of things that separate. “House of Vaii” for what unites.
In the forest chamber
On the other side of Rakhmanovo, in a forest (a heavily overgrown field) on a hill, there is a change house of the Nikolaev family, who came here from Korolev near Moscow. Alena and Vladimir bought 6,5 hectares of land in 2011. The issue of choosing a site was approached meticulously, they traveled around the Tver, Vladimir, Yaroslavl regions. Initially, they wanted to live not in a settlement, but separately, so that there would be no reason for disputes with neighbors.
– We do not have any idea or philosophy, we are informal, – Alena laughs. “We just like to dig in the ground. In fact, of course, there is – the deep essence of this ideology is conveyed by the work of Robert Heinlein “The Door to Summer”. The protagonist of this work himself arranged for himself a small individual miracle, having passed his winding and fantastic path. We ourselves chose a beautiful place for ourselves: we wanted the southern slope of the hill so that the horizon could be seen, and the river flowed nearby. We dreamed that we would have terraced farming, we would build beautiful cascades of ponds… But reality has made its own adjustments. When I came here in the first summer and I was attacked by such mosquitoes with horseflies (shows the size like a real fisherman), I was shocked. Although I grew up in my own house, we had a garden, but here everything turned out differently, the land is complex, everything is overgrown quickly, I had to remember some grandmother’s ways, to learn something. We put up two beehives, but so far our hands have not even reached them. The bees live there by themselves, we don’t touch them, and everyone is happy. I realized that my limit here is a family, a garden, a dog, a cat, but Volodya does not leave the idea of having a couple of shaggy llamas for the soul, and maybe guinea fowls for eggs.
Alena is an interior designer and works remotely. She tries to take complex orders for the winter, because in the summer there are too many things on earth that she wants to do. Favorite profession brings not only earnings, but also self-realization, without which she cannot imagine herself. And he says that even with a lot of money, he is unlikely to quit his job. Fortunately, now there is Internet in the forest: this year for the first time we wintered in our estate (before we lived only in summer).
“Every time I wake up in the morning and hear the birds singing, I am glad that my almost three-year-old son is growing up here, surrounded by wildlife,” says Alena. – What does he know and already knows how to recognize birds by their voices: woodpecker, cuckoo, nightingale, kite and other birds. That he sees how the sun rises and how it sets behind the forest. And I’m glad that he absorbs and has the opportunity to see it from childhood.
The young couple and their little son have so far settled in a well-equipped barn, which was built by the “golden hands” husband, Vladimir. The design of the barn with elements of energy efficiency: there is a polycarbonate roof, which gives the effect of a greenhouse, and a stove, which made it possible to survive frosts of -27. They live on the first floor, on the second floor they dry and dry willow-tea, the production of which brings a small additional income. The plans are to build more beautiful capital housing, drill a well (water is now brought from a spring), plant a garden-forest, where, along with fruit crops, various others will grow. While seedlings of plums, sea buckthorn, cherries, shadberries, small oaks, lindens and cedars were planted on the land, Vladimir grew the last ones from seeds brought from Altai!
“Of course, if a person has lived on Mira Avenue for 30 years, it will be a brain explosion for him,” the owner says. – But gradually, when you step on the ground, learn to live on it, you catch a new rhythm – natural. Many things are revealed to you. Why did our ancestors wear white? It turns out that horseflies sit less on white. And bloodsuckers do not like garlic, so just carrying garlic cloves in your pocket is enough, and the probability of picking up a tick in May is reduced by 97%. When you come here from the city, get out of the car, not only another reality opens up. It is very clearly felt here how God wakes up inside and begins to cognize the divine in the environment, and the environment, in turn, persistently awakens the creator in you. We are in love with the phrase “The universe has manifested itself and decided to look at itself through our eyes.”
In nutrition, the Nikolaevs are not picky, they naturally moved away from meat, in the village they buy high-quality cottage cheese, milk, and cheese.
“Volodya makes gorgeous pancakes,” Alena is proud of her husband. We love guests. In general, we bought this site through realtors, and thought that we were alone here. A year later, it turned out that this was not the case; but we have good relations with our neighbors. When we lack some kind of movement, we go to visit each other or to Grace for the holidays. Different people live in our district, mostly Muscovites, but there are also people from other regions of Russia and even from Kamchatka. The main thing is that they are adequate and want some kind of self-realization, but this does not mean that they did not work out in the city or they ran away from something. These are ordinary people who managed to fulfill their dream or are going towards it, not dead souls at all … We also noticed that in our environment there are many people with a creative approach, just like we do. We can say that real creativity is our ideology and lifestyle.
The first person Alena and Vladimir Nikolaev met in their forest land was Ibraim Cabrera, who came to them in the forest to pick mushrooms. It turned out that he is the grandson of a Cuban and their neighbor, who bought a plot nearby. A resident of Khimki near Moscow has also been looking for his piece of land for several years: he traveled both the black earth strip and the regions bordering Moscow, the choice fell on the Yaroslavl kholmogory. The nature of this region is beautiful and amazing: it is north enough for such berries as cranberries, cloudberries, lingonberries, but still south enough for growing apples and potatoes. Sometimes in winter you can see the northern lights, and in summer – white nights.
Ibraim has been living in Rakhmanovo for four years – he rents a village house and builds his own, which he designed himself. He lives in the company of a strict but kind-hearted dog and a stray cat. Since the surrounding fields are lilac in summer due to willow tea, Ibraim mastered its production, created a small artel of local residents and opened an online store.
“Some of our settlers breed goats, make cheese, someone breeds crops, for example, a woman came from Moscow and wants to grow flax,” says Ibraim. – Recently, a family of artists from Germany bought land – she is Russian, he is German, they will be engaged in creativity. Here everyone can find something to their liking. You can master folk crafts, pottery, for example, and if you become a master of your craft, you can always feed yourself. When I arrived here, I had a remote job, I was engaged in Internet marketing, I had a good income. Now I live only on Ivan-tea, I sell it through my online store in small wholesale – from a kilogram. I have granulated tea, leaf tea and just green dried leaf. Prices are two times lower than in stores. I hire locals for the season – people like it, because there is little work in the village, the salaries are small.
In Ibraim’s hut, you can also buy tea and buy a birch bark jar for it – you will get a useful gift from an environmentally friendly place.
In general, cleanliness is, perhaps, the main thing that is felt in the Yaroslavl expanses. With the inconvenience of everyday life and all the complexities of village life, one does not want to return to the city from here.
“In large cities, people cease to be people,” Ibraim argues, treating us to a thick, tasty compote of berries and dried fruits. – And as soon as I came to this understanding, I decided to move to the earth.
Breathing in the clean air, talking with ordinary people with their earthly philosophy, we stood in a traffic jam on Moscow and silently dreamed. About the wide expanses of empty lands, about how much our apartments in cities cost, and of course, about how we can equip Russia. From there, from the ground, it seems obvious.