We spent five wonderful days in Belarus , most of them in Minsk , but one day we drove out to the village of Kolozuby to visit Raisa’s father , who still lives in the house that he and his son built about sixty years ago . Raisa grew up there and attended the school just across the road but which is now closed and abandoned .
The old man lives out there alone now , tending the garden and living a bachelor life . His wife died some time ago . He had been trained as a shoemaker and he had been a soldier in the Great Patriotic War , a sniper in the Soviet Army . His house and plot of land is surrounded by vast fields that were collectively farmed in the soviet system . At one time he had kept a bull , chickens , and a dog . The dog house is still there but no dog . The last chicken had been eaten by a fox . As he and I looked out behind his house he spotted , with his old farmer’s/sniper’s eyes , a fox in the grassland . I didn’t see it .