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Misha Maslennikov

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The Don steppe

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        Picture yourself in the midst of the steppe, somewhere out in the open, looking at the horizon. You find your gaze drawn beyond this meeting of earth and sky, to the far side of the visible, so much that you can see nothing other than this inexorable boundary. What’s out there? What kind of life beyond imagining? Perhaps something utterly different, utterly unknown: seas and mountains, the crystalline glint of office windows in concrete canyons, elegant shop windows, the fireplaces of ski lodges? Perhaps climbing the corporate ladder with its strict dress code, or beach volleyball in stylish bikinis? But you stand there for a while in silence, just a bit longer, and all this falls away. There is only the earth under your feet, near and far, as far as the eye can see, and the sky above your head, around you and about you, and it all runs together as one, even within you, and it’s as if there is no longer an observer. And you want to understand, you long to glimpse the sense of it, to unravel the riddle of nature, in yourself and in the creation around you, to suddenly grasp why you ended up here. There was something else…
        Ah yes, it’s time to head home. You whistle to the dog, who’s tagged along for the walk, you gather the cut reeds from the ravine at the bend in the river for wattling and to repair the roof, you bring in water and firewood, and you water the garden. Then you fix the sagging fence of the livestock pen, you feed the chickens and the pigs, you meet the herd of cows coming in from pasture and urge them into the cowshed. What else? There’s never any lack of chores on the farm. Milk the cows, clean the fish, prepare the leavening for the bread. You don’t neglect the cats, but they would have been sure to remind you of themselves in any case.

Misha Maslennikov