In our modern lives, we often take the little things for granted. Running water isn’t a guarantee everywhere, and there are plenty of places that aren’t a five-minute drive from the nearest grocery store.
And yet, for all the wonderful technological advancements that we’ve made and devices we’ve come up with to make life easier, there are still plenty of problems we face as the cost of these conveniences: traffic, congestion, poor air quality and stress from the hectic pace of life, just to name a few.
Lyubov Morekhodova had a taste of “city” life working in a factory as a technology engineer for over four decades, but she was born next to Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, and it was to Lake Baikal that she has returned.
She and her husband moved back to the Siberian family home after retiring, but he passed away in 2011. Since then, she’s been tending to her animals and keeping warm through the frigid winters that can get to -50 degrees Celsius.
Every day, the 76-year-old gets up at 5:30 a.m. to start the farm chores. She feeds her animals and gets her stove going. If her cows have strayed particularly far, she straps on her skates and heads across the frozen lake to locate them.
Her skates are almost as old as she is; her father, a forester, made them back in 1943.
“I’ve always been going long distances on skates,” she told The Siberian Times. “I started skating when I was seven.”
“My Dad made the skates by cutting a metal saw and inserting it into pieces of wood which I then tied to valenki (traditional felt boots). I don’t like modern skates, they wobble around my ankle and feet get cold.
“Valenki are always warm. I was even competing in these skates with my fellow factory workers.”
The skates have served her well, and continue to do so. One positive of the icy terrain is that the wind is so strong there, it blows snow off the hillsides, giving her five cows, two bulls and two calves access to the plants that would otherwise be buried beneath the snow.
Harsh as it may be, she finds the scenery absolutely gorgeous.
“I sit alone in the kitchen, I sit and look at this,” she said. “It gives me happiness, a good mood, and then I always think, if anybody sat next to me, they’d say: ‘What a beauty, what incredible beauty.'”
Keeping her cows, dogs, chickens and self alive takes up most of her time during the winter, and if she’s not feeding or looking for her cows, she’s carrying buckets of water home from a hole the neighbors drill for her in the lake.
The summer is much more pleasant and her family comes to help with the chores, but it also brings tourists. Morekhodova hasn’t had the best experiences with them.
“The only unpleasant thing here is drunk tourists on ATVs who forever manage to break something,” she said. “They killed two dogs and turned my boat upside down.”
“But I realize there is little I can do about them. … In the summer, when there are lots of people, I tell them: ‘Pick up your litter, tidy up after yourselves. Don’t leave litter, it all ends up in Baikal.’
“We live a happy life here, me and my animals. In summer I get to see all my relatives, and in winters I am way too busy to get bored.”
She was surprised to hear that her story had taken off online, but she was also confused as to why people would be so interested.
“Just what do these people want from me? I am minding my business and not touching theirs. I’ve got no spare time at all, and they are inviting me to Moscow!”
Despite her family’s attempts to get her to relocate to a more populous location, Morekhodova seems pretty content to stay at her lake — and why shouldn’t she? Her first name means “love” and her last name means “the one who walks on sea,” so it’s unlikely she’ll stray far from the water she’s known most of her life.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.