Lenin in pines and birches

150 000 trees used to write the name of the proletariat's leader

Lyaskovichi villagers used 150 000 trees to write the name of the leader of the world proletariat

At first this seems to be an ordinary forest of pines and birches. Squirrels stock up on cones for winter here, and people pick mushrooms in autumn. Walking among the trunks one could hardly guess that this forest tract was planted in the form of a word «Lenin». The inscription can only be seen from an airplane or satellite. This forest, started near Lyaskovichi village of Ivanovo district in the early 60s, went down in history and almost sank into oblivion. Virtually no information has survived about it. Our reporter helped by the local residents has restored the biography of the unusual «Lenin» bit by bit.

Inside «Ilyich»

We approach the forest. From a distance, rows of birch trees in the midst of pine thicket are seen: the black-and-white beauties stand two meters higher than their prickly 15-meter neighbours.

Here begins «L», — shows Mikhail Malich, a forest warden of the Ivanovo forestry. — This and all the other letters were written with birches against the dark background of pines. It is thanks to the difference in colour shades of deciduous and coniferous trees that the word can be seen from above.

We follow the path, which cuts off the top of «L». The capital letter, which is bigger than the others, has twice been unlucky. Its top was «cut off» when the territory of the wood was divided into squares, and its legs were «injured» during planting, when they turned out to be crossing a nearby road.

The fact that there goes «e» after «L» can be guessed only by the birch line, which stretches along the path. It leads us deep into the forest, and we decide to measure «n».

— The vertical line is 160 steps, — says Nicholas Kivets, master of the Ivanovo forestry, making strides, — The horizontal one is 20.

The total area of the strand is more than 26 hectares. If you divide it into five roughly equal-sized letters, one letter takes about 5 hectares. By the way, every hectare here holds 6000 trees on the average, 1000 of them birches. So it turns out that «i» is about 30 000 trees, about 5000 of them — birches.

The handmade miracle

This unusual plantation appeared here fifty years ago. In 1962, a collective farm handed a non-arable piece of land over to the forestry. They planned to plant it with birches and pines. Works were scheduled for 1963.

— The 100th anniversary of Lenin`s birth was to come in 1970, and by that time the word would have been easily visible from the bird`s-eye view, — Mikhail Tikhonovich clarifies. — This prompted the then forest warden Vassily Podolinsky to plant a part of forest in the form of the word «Lenin».

He would sit over his drafts in the evenings, and conduct geodetic measurements in the daytime, local residents recall. The area of the forest needed to be divided into equal squares and calculations to be done on how to properly place the pines and birches. A week later the forest warden with two foresters Nikolai Kravchuk and Dmitri Lopai put delimiter surveying rods, and a tractor driver could now plough the land.

As usual, planting began in early April. The birch zones were planted with two-year saplings to see if the drawing was being made smooth, and the pine ones with seedlings: the root system of conifers is sufficiently well developed at this age.

 The saplings were taken in the Drogichin forestry, where I and Vassily Stepanovich went in a GAZ-51 truck, — says Nikolay Seglyuk, who worked as a driver at the collective farm at the time. — We brought about 50 000 trees, those lasted us one week, so we had to go 2 or 3 times more. We had been planting the forest during a month, from morning till evening. Podolinsky guided the work. Exept collective farmers, senior pupils were involved as well.

— An acquaintance of mine was asked to plant birches on a tree planting machine, — remembers the then eighth-former Mariya Klimovich. — She didn’t cope so she called me to be her assistant. The work was not difficult — putting trees into the planting mashine quickly. But they paid well for it — 160 roubles.

When everything was done, a pilot-observer flew round the future forest and reported: the word was written smoothly.

The secret becomes evident

In 1970, when the inscription was already visible, Vassily Podolinski decided to register the forest as an invention. But he was denied a patent and told that it was not an invention, but a new form. After that the untiring forest warden decided to create the Park of the Sun. He planted rows of birches, ashes, maples and larches radiating from a small pond like the rays of the sun.

The pine-and-birch Lenin never became famous throughout the Soviet Union. Few people knew about it even outside the district. Nor did delegations of the Party members come to Lyaskovichi to have a look at the name of the leader swaying in the breeze. But, for the locals, the forest became kind of a treasure. A young lad on return from Russia, where he served in the Army, told that once someone brought a newspaper and he saw a photo in it of «Lenin», taken from an aircraft. «This is my village!» — he cried for joy.

  You can see the inscription only from above, — looks in the sky Stepan Shish, who was teacher of history in Ivanovo school in 1960—2000. — Therefore, when a helicopter landed, people arranged with the pilot, through personal connections, to be taken for a flight.

The wonder forest is best to look upon in autumn, when the yellow birch inscription is clearly visible against the green background.

«Lenin» is taken great care of — not only by the local residents, but the fate itself. All this time fire and greenfly spared it. Only schoolchildren spoiled the birch in the spring, trying to gain some juice. The foresters had to visit the school and explain what damage it might do to the forest.

But on the whole, the plantation does not require special care.

We remove only the pine’s deadwood and thin out the places with a lot of trees, — Mikhail Tikhonovich says. — Planting new trees would be no use here, because light shortage wouldn`t allow them to take root.

Beside this forest you realize that the stories of someone becoming a celebrity overnight could be true. For «Google Maps» satellite photos have suddenly made «Lenin» famous. A search request «Lyaskovichi forest Lenin» on «Google» gives out more than three dozen of links.

Only one thing is sad in this story: the creator of the plantation didn’t live till the moment when his brainchild got finally talked about.  

Therefore, now it is his «son»’s destiny to preserve the «father»’s name for centuries to come.

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