2015: Most & Least Read

A barn in Ust-Sobolevka. Photograph Ⓒ Jonathan C. Slaght

This is my 40th post in the last 12 months; a year’s-end offering of 2015’s most- and least-read stories.

1. Least Read: A Graveyard of Rust. This was my first post ever, in January 2015, which garnered a mere 26 views! These 100 words about Ust-Sobolevka, one of the most remote villages I’ve ever visited in Russia, are worth a second look.

2. Most Read: A Nutritious Meal. This story, about a long drive and a very questionable can of meat, was a lot of fun to write. And I am happy to report I did not contract trichinosis as a result.

Thanks for a good year and here’s hoping for more of the same in 2016.


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.

A Graveyard of Rust

UstSobolevka_TrucksUst-Sobelevka, a village of about two hundred people, is located at the mouth of the Sobolevka River in northern Primorye, Russia. It is almost impossible to reach; the road to it is more a labyrinth of mud and water than a thoroughfare, and few people make the journey. It is a sullen, wind-swept place populated by hunters and those with nowhere else to go, and where the tallest structure in town is the concrete skeleton of an orphanage never completed. This field, which occupies the few hundred meters of space between the village and the Sea of Japan, is inexplicably littered with rusting trucks; gravestones mourning the passing of better days.