The first twenty years of my life I lived in the city of Volgograd, southern Russia. Most of the Volgograd region is a steppe and semi-desert. Summer in this region is very hot and dry, and so city-dwellers choose to relax the local oasis between Volga and Akhtuba rivers. Many townspeople have own country houses (dacha), it`s little villas with smallholding located near the rivers and eriks (river channel).
Volgograd neighborhood Kodak Ektachrome E100G
I spent holidays times at my parents’ country house, almost every summer of my childhood from birth . Our country house located on the river island Crete (yes, like greek island). And I still visited country house every weekend in the spring, summer and autumn even when I started working age.
Later I began to go to the country house of my girlfriend, which is located on a huge river island in the middle of the Volga River opposite the Volgograd. The island is called Sarpinsky. During the spring high water another island – Golodny (“hungry”) is separated from Sarpinsky, on which there are city water treatment facilities.
Autumn parched channel “Schuchiy” (pike fish) separating two islands when there is a spring high water.
A little bit about the climate: despite the fact that grapes grow in in these places and wine is made from it – winters are windy, cold and snowy, and the temperature in winter can reach 20°С degrees below zero. But summer opp., is dry without rain and very hot with temperatures around 40°С degrees. For me this is like a Spartan training program – the continental climate I even wouldn`t wish to the my enemy.
In childhood I was coming to the parents country house on the river motor ship. For me this “river tram” has become familiar and cozy. On weekends from morning to evening every ships was filled with people. To the island of Crete the ship transports for 15-20 minutes, but to the island of Sarpinsky for hour.
To the Sarpinsky you can get on the two types of ships – “Om” and “Moscow”.
On the top photo is “Om” type. And by the way, on the Volga there are high waves and even storms. On the bottom the photo is “Moscow” type. The morning mist that covers the river can easily catch by surprise.. The captain of the ship (on which I sailed) still decided to continue our journey, unlike to ship on the photo. In general, maneuvers into the fog are dangerous, there are dangerous shoals on the river, but they marked by buoys.
Kodak Ektar и Ilford Pan 100
This power transmission tower and the mound on which it stands caused a local disaster. After its construction in the late 80s, the direction of the riverbed (arm of a river) start change. The island coast began to wash off and a sand bar appeared on the opposite bank (on the mainland). Unfortunately, it is on this washed-off shore of the island that country house cooperatives (communities), camp sites (summer hostel) and even settlements where people lived all year round are located. For my first visit most of the country houses have disappeared forever, like most of the camp sites. All of them washed away in the Volga. Every year several houses fall into the river …
Because the most of country houses are not privately property – cost compensation for the loss of houses and lands to residents is not provided. Compensated is provided only to the inhabitants of settlements. Some people buy (in fact it`s rent) new country houses further from the coast. But by my opinion, sooner or later they will suffer the same fate. This falls will continue until the sleeve of the river finally changes the their course and does not wash away everything that hinders its flow.
Kodak Portra 400
After moving to Moscow I understood that there was not much time left and soon there would be no more. So, I decided to take a picture of everything I can.
Swifts often settle in the newly formed slopes and swallows build nests right on the landing stages. Huge trees at first time bare their roots and then, unable to keep the shore they fall into the river after it. The atlanteans are helpless in the face of man-made elements.
he river island is quiet and peaceful place, since there are almost no cars and no tourists. On this side of the island, in the river there is a lot of pike fish, herring and other. Fishermen come to fishing in these regions even from other places.
In the evening it is pleasant to walk on the shore, although mosquitoes and midges (inherent to these places) can to spoil a walk.
Kodak Portra 400
Further from the coast there are three settlements with very boring names: Sandy-1, Sandy-2 and Sandy-3. The remaining settlements are on the safe side of the island. In the settlements many houses were abandoned, most likely after the death from old age of people living there. The rest of the houses are well-groomed and someone lives in them. Settlers engaged to raising beef cattle and partly farming. There are few fields here.
Unfortunately, people leave this island and nature again seizes this lands. Many gardens had returned to their original condition before the arrival of the people. The abandoned wrecks of cars and mechanisms rust, overgrown with grass and turn into a kind of iron idols.
Some photos of village life. In the hot afternoon some villagers sit at home.
Old river pump for irrigation, the same dump truck, venomous viper and summer motive.
In such an arid climate trees grow poorly, except for the rooted poplars and elms. But on the river oasis there is a real oak grove.
Kodak Portra 400
River trams approach the old wooden landing stage. Exactly the same landing stage a few years ago was burned.
And again the contry houses place.
Kodak Portra 400
Bad Internet on a smartphone never upset me here. In the our house we only came to sleep when we was tired after walking or fishing.
Some old photos: my bow with the old “Zorki” camera, trees entwined with wild “fire” grapes, autumn viburnum and gulls.
Some island life: country horse and little steppe lizard.
Instead of the conclusion I want to write a hackneyed phrase: nothing lasts forever and we should appreciate every moment of our life.