Winter Lights in the Caucasus3 min read

 In Caucasus, Culture, Photography
Batumi sea port, Georgia / Zadig Tisserand

Migratory birds stopping over at a Black Sea port taste the once-clear water polluted by the metal giants, coming and going unceasingly as they transport iron machinery and plastic goods for paper money or numerical values. The cycle is relentless. Unperturbed, the birds know that this is the season when they must uphold tradition and reproduce on salted water the dotted lines of snow on land.


Church in Mestia, Georgia / Zadig Tisserand

Frozen, the surrounding paths discouraged everyone, except the cows and bulls who, like statues, freely watched over Laghami. Snow had covered the roofs of the houses, the few cars, the walls, and the paths, including the one leading to the wooden door of this small church. Inside, the most complete silence. No candle. A few matches on the tray of a candelabra. Icons on a table, near which lay chequered sheets torn from a notebook. In it, the clumsy blue ink handwriting of a recent visitor, neither signed nor dated, seeking the attention of the owner.


Main road in Aragatsavan, Armenia / Zadig Tisserand

Winter in these highlands is a way for the mountains to hide, to take on the colour of the clouds. They want humans to be able to see only their dark and flawed works: carved wood, curved metal, polished stone. However, they forget each year that humans, guided by routine and toil, do not love their land for its appearance but for what it is: theirs and that of their fathers and mothers. Thinking animals that our faculty troubles.


Village of Isahakyan, Armenia / Zadig Tisserand

We hear the wind and the dogs, except when a train sets off south from Gyumri, or arrives into the city. The Akhourian Lake stretches out, its icy sheet of water facing the village of Isahakyan. No one comes to buy khorovadz or khinkali anymore. The sky is loaded with the smoke from the stoves. Winter turns breathing into smoke, proving that fire lives inside us. In the houses, people open fruit spirits prepared in the summer, and as if the burn of the alcohol were a pledge of good medicine, cure their colds with it.


Christmas in Gyumri, Armenia / Zadig Tisserand

As we entered the church, an old man approached and whispered to me: “Our light is pious, see how it celebrates this day with us!”. In the building echoed only the sounds of footsteps, children’s laughter, and murmurs. Everything was flooded with light, so we all kept our eyes low so as not to be blinded. It was Christmas Day and the sky above the black, wounded town of Gyumri was plain blue.


Sukhum(i) sea path, Abkhazia / Zadig Tisserand

The winter nights in Sukhumi are wet and heady. On the promenade, the Black Sea gradually melts into the sky before disappearing. The eucalyptus trees too decide to hide in the twilight. We advance like automatons on the white promenade, skirting the round-crowned lampposts. There is no point in seeing: the sea is no longer there, but you can hear it; the eucalyptus are no longer there, but you can smell them.


Winter in Sukhum(i), Abkhazia / Zadig Tisserand


Featured image: Artik’s city centre, Armenia / Zadig Tisserand
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