Sunday, January 4, 2009

Places on a Map

I gave myself a renewed subscription to Russian Life's "Chtenia: Readings from Russia" for the new year. It's an amazing little journal that arrives with the seasons. My renewal came with a free modern map of Russia. I've put it up on my wall and pinpointed places that have a story for me - (because of my mom). Wow, is Russia ever a big place - and pre-1991 it was even bigger. 

Siberia just goes on and on. Because of its sheer size, winters there really are colder than elsewhere. It has something to do with the Ural mountains and the fact that there's little coastline to moderate the temperatures. There's just so much land with virtually no towns or cities shown on the map. I guess the small settlements - often gulags with forced labour - never got to be given a name on a map. I can find Arkhangelsk - north of St. Petersburg near the White Sea Canal. I can also see Vorkuta - a notoriously harsh gulag. But I can't see the little place near Yaya (just southest of Tomsk) where my mom was sent. In fact, most of the places of my mom's life can't be found anywhere. 

Fedorofka, her home village has been renamed Kaliniwka. Koenigsberg, where she spent her teenage years is now Kaliningrad, East Prussia is now Poland and no Yaya.  Today, it's no doubt just some leftover barbwire in some bush.  Then there's the place where she was sent as POW in 1945 - somewhere in the Ural Mountains - Shadrinsk - I found it!  It's on the Iset River. 

I must try and keep these places real. I would SO much love to travel by train through Siberia. 
Maybe someday. 

1 comment:

Barrie said...

I love maps. And I bet you do take that trip one day.