Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday and Siberia

Yesterday worked out beautifully. We did everything at a leisurely, molasses-like pace. All the errands got done, including shipping off Matt's boxes to college and dropping new prints off for framing. We bought two small prints of PEI watercolors when we were in Cavendish with the kids, and we'll hang them here to remind us of the island when we're here. For Nick's last birthday I found a map of PEI, circa 1935, which I had framed and hangs in our bedroom. It's a pretty and lighthearted map. Unremarkably, not much has changed on the Island since then. The prints will join the map.

In the afternoon we rested and read. Nick's really enjoying the book about the Bataan death march, and I (finally) finished the second part of the New Yorker two-part article about Siberia, which I loved. It reminded me of the 4-hour movie I saw years ago about the region (I think it was called Siberiad.) Really interesting, and one of the most interesting parts was about the Decembrists -- the revolutionary group who tried to overthrow the czar in the early 19th century. Obviously I was interested because we love the band who took their name, but I've also always been deeply interested in Russian history. It's a great story -- a group of young men (most of them were under 40) who wanted to unseat the government and institute constitutional rule, but hadn't really thought through their plan and were foiled. Many of the Decembrists were exiled to Siberia and were canonized as folk heroes. The leaders weren't executed because they were actually members of the royal family, and the head of the group was only one level below the czar. Even Lenin celebrated their exploits because he saw them as fellow revolutionaries. Their lack of preparation also brought to mind Aethelred the Unready, English king in the 11th century who bears one of my favorite historical epithets.

Any day that brings together revolutionary Russia and the early Middle ages is an interesting one.

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