The Cows, Coming Home

Like a rotating cog in a massive alarm clock, these cows reliably cross the bridge to Ternei at about the same time each evening in summer; a reminder to those who can see them that the work day is done. The village herd here is collective; anyone with a cow or two can release them to graze with their brethren in the fields on the far side of the Serebryanka River. Then, in the evening, the cows come home to sleep in their own barns. This is one of the reasons that livestock depredations by tigers are uncommon in Russia—whereas they are a significant issue across the border in China—the cows here spend the night indoors.

In the winter months I observe a different procession from my window atop the hill; one just as dependable as the cows. At dusk a column of headlights snakes into town from the coast; ice fishermen rosy from wind and vodka making their way home after a long day catching smelt at the frozen river mouth.

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