Place to Disappear

Maria Guțu

In late 2016 I began to explore areas near me. One kilometre from my home there is a village founded in the 19th century by a group of Poles led by Michał Wojewódzki. Its name has changed over time from Dușmanii Mici to Elizavetovca, and since 1911 it is known as Stârcea. It lies in Glodeni County, in the north of the Republic of Moldova. Here I made friends with a group of children who started to lead me on tours around the village, from deserted houses full of dust with religious icons on the floor to the village church, still considered a tourist attraction, and also serving as the village’s only public building. What impressed me the most was the lake, isolated from the rest of the village and, in that season, completely covered with a thick sheet of ice, just right for skating. Around the lake, the scenery was reminiscent of Kerouac’s novels: a small blue cabin – former food store, now someone’s home – with its annexes, dogs, cattle and many unidentified objects, a chaos harmoniously nestled in nature. Here I met Victor, a fisherman, and Gheorghe, a farmer. We went out walking with the dogs, then woodcutting, and I listened to their stories about ice fishing. Gheorghe is 25 and lives here. He came to work in Stârcea a few years ago, when the farm had a different owner. He had planned to stay for a year or two, then go work in Russia. But he never left. Some of the lake’s rare visitors are fishermen who come every two or three days. Sparsely populated in winter, the lake is a space into which you can dissolve and disappear at will.

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