Tarusa is a small town in the very heart of Russia, Oka-Riversituated on the hilly bank of Oka River. Its narrow streets climb onto the hills, then roll down to the ravines full of brushwood and nettle, then struggle up again to the outskirts of the city to the endless fields and beautiful birch groves surrounding the town....

Tarusa – this is a magical word and magical world! 

Magic – in the mere name Tarusa: TA – RU’ – SA; in the air filled with very unique – only in Tarusa! – aroma of poplar leaves, with smell of lilac and bird cherry trees, with breath of meadows and birch groves. 

Magic – in the golden rye fields, in the blue cornflowers and campanulas, in the fields’ roads, in the green pine-trees of the calm and inviting Valley of Dreams, where emerald hills roll down to the clear spring, gently murmuring below.

Magic – in the mid-afternoon heat, in the yellow burning river sand, in the forest wall lining the side of the river, in the buzz of bees ,and in the summer air wrapping a warm blanket around you.

And the most magic of all is in the name of Marina Tsvetaeva, the great Russian poet, whose name belongs to Tarusa as well as Tarusa belongs to her. 

“Tarusa nest” – the family house where she lived during her summers – was about 1 kilometer from Tarusa, on the high bank of Oka, where narrow paths ran down to the river blistering between the hazelnut bushes.  Now, the vacation home has been moved to her family’s estate; and a dance club is roaring with modern music where the house once stood.

One of her novels written in emigration was a tribute to Tarusa: Khlystovki.  It ends with a passionate lines:

“I would like to rest on that old cemetery, in one of those graves under the silver dove where the most beautiful wild strawberries grow.  But if it is not my destiny to lie there, and if that cemetery does not exist at all, let them bring the stone from the Tarusa stone quarry, and let them write on it: “Marina Tsvetaeva would like to be buried here”.

She was not buried there.

And the same blue skies are glancing calmly down on those hazelnut bushes, and the same tranquil river is running its waters from ancient Kaluga downstream to Serpuchov and further, to great Volga-River,and the same white birches bend their branches over beautiful springs near narrow bridges.


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