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The face of the native land, Collection. Sergey Bablumyan, Irina Dementieva. News, 1981

face of the earth

   The landscape of Armenia is concave, raised to the edges of the horizon: on the inner slopes of the bowl, rows of gardens and forest plantations, garden cells, villages, entire towns with streets, industrial pipes and hydroelectric power stations, lines of high-voltage masts, highways are carved by a human hand. Everything here is separate, everything is visible to the eye - a landslide of a wheat field, a bunch of trees, a basalt cube of an ancient temple, the silver domes of the Byurakan Observatory; and everything is interconnected, as parts of a single inhabited nature - cracks in roads and canals and cracks in gorges, dense flocks of stones on wastelands and a pebble scattering of sheep herds on mountain pastures, mirrors of artificial reservoirs and the blue eye of Sevan. The openness, openness of this landscape is such that, if desired, it can be read as a table of contents for the country that imprinted the work and aspirations of many generations of Armenians into these bare hills.


    “The earth is like a living being: it has its own soul. And without a native land, without a homeland, one cannot find oneself, one's soul... The heart of the earth is in the heart of a person. Everything originates in this heart. So said Martiros Saryan, whose centenary from the date of birth Armenia celebrated this year. Blooming Armenia in a riot of colors and balance of lines, familiar to all of us from the canvases of Saryan. no matter where we grow up, it originated in the heart of the artist, who embodied in his work the age-old dream of the people about fertility. the abundance of the native land, about the joyful harmony between man and nature.


   These words of Saryan involuntarily came to mind when, with the director of the Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry Grant Petrovich Petrosyan, we walked through the orchard, between trees hung with apples, pears, and plums glowing in the evening air.


    Armenia donates more than 20 percent of fresh peach fruits to the union fund, harvests up to 300,000 tons of grapes a year, and especially sweet and fragrant ones. It is from him, from the grapes, that the range of flavors in the wines and cognacs of Armenia: the unique flavor of walnut in "Etchmiadzin". fruits and berries - in semi-sweet "Vernashen", fresh rye bread - in "Oshakan", chocolate - in "Aregina". All these are grape varieties, the culture of their cultivation. The Ararat Valley lies at the 40th latitude of the Northern Hemisphere, which crosses the viticultural countries - Portugal, Spain. Italy, Greece, famous all over the world for their wines, which, however, successfully compete with the wines of Armenia. Armenian scientists have bred 55 table and industrial varieties of grapes, the area under vineyards in Soviet times increased by 6 times.


   What are these six times, you can imagine. if we take into account that the land of Armenia is scarce ... land: all the fields and soils on which something grows in Armenia - 15 percent of its territory.


    For dry, stony wastelands, there is a word in the Armenian language that does not need to be translated, which sounds like the grinding of a plow against a stone. - "crr". Up to six thousand tons of stones are collected from each hectare before the first harvest, other blocks are so large that they have to be blown up. Every inch of land here is immensely expensive, and in the literal sense, when they mean the money invested.

Petrosyan also showed us the palmette garden: support pillars, rows of wire are stretched on them like musical rulers, and on them, like a lyre, in just two dimensions, or like a hand (palmette - in Italian hand) a tree is unfolded: each fruit, each branch is accessible to the eye, and most importantly, to the sun and inter-row processing. For Armenia, the meaning of such a garden is also in saving the land: in the usual shady garden with round crowns, there are four times fewer trees than in the dwarf palmette.


    “This is the same land,” Petrosyan said about the garden and waved his hand to the side, where a plot fenced with a net, like an aviary. There is one predator in the aviary, very dangerous - a salt marsh. Whitish spots of salt appear on the soil of Armenia, like sweat on a farmer's shirt. In the most fertile Ararat valley in the republic alone, 30,000 hectares have been taken away by inanimate land on which nothing grows - soda salt licks. 30 thousand, which, according to Petrosyan's firm conviction. should be returned to the peasant. Salt marsh, driven into an aviary, is studied, compared with it. This is, so to speak, a control copy.


    Nearby - juicy alfalfa, a field of pink geraniums. “This is the same land,” says Grant Petrovich Petrosyan. Noticing sincere amazement, he strides contentedly towards the vineyards, where in each row of trellises, under different leaves, a thick green shadow is stuffed tightly, like a bag, with cast clusters. “And this is the same land,” says Petrosyan. And once again he utters this phrase, already, it seems, for himself. The transformation of the earth for him is not an image, not a phrase, but a real deed, a real success.


   In the past, entire civilizations perished, unable to cope with soil salinization. Soda salt licks occupy vast areas in Australia, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, India, the African continent... Experts from everywhere come to Armenia to learn how to turn salt licks into fertile land.


    - How it's done? Grant Petrovich laughs. - Yes, in a school chemistry textbook, the main idea is stated: you drop acid on an alkali, the alkali is neutralized!


    Good ideas are always simple, but technology is complex. The first experiments on washing saline lands were carried out forty years ago and did not give tangible results. Another two decades "was spent looking for acid, which had to be "dropped" on alkali, the so-called ameliorant. But when it was finally found, it turned out to be so fast-acting and effective that it allowed the waste field to be returned to the farmer in just one growing season This ameliorant was a weak solution of sulfuric acid, which is contained in many industrial wastes.In the spring, they flood the plot, in the fall it is already possible to sow winter wheat.


   “To provide for measures for the agricultural development of the lands of the Ararat Valley,” is written in the resolution of the XXV Party Congress. Petrosyan and his colleagues set as their goal not only to find their own methodology and implement it at the experimental level, but to work out the entire technological chain from salt marsh to wheat ear or grape bunch. How to level the plot, plow and dig out cracks (the Armenian Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture designed a special mechanism - a crack maker), how to cut hectare checks with protective rollers (mechanics, in this case, in relation to the conditions of Armenia, offered their own “roll maker”), what kind of drainage is needed -collector and irrigation network, which crop rotation should be applied on the developed area; in a word, a whole complex of hydrotechnical, soil and chemical reclamation, agrotechnical and biological measures has been determined, after which a garden can be planted. plant a vineyard or melon and get up to 350 centners per hectare of watermelons. 250 centners of fruit. 100-110 - grapes. The costs should pay for themselves in 3-6 years.


    “Yes, even if it took a hundred years!” Petrosyan said passionately.

The sight of the idle uncultivated land seems to torment him physically. Here the shoulders of the highway are too wide, here the masts of high-voltage transmission stride right across the field, here the builders leave the sandpits, the boys fish in them, and the fish farmers, in turn, build ponds and take away precious land in vain. Only the sight of an idle person irritates him more. The institute he founded two decades ago impressed us even more with the fact that, with a large amount of research and the results achieved, it has only 176 people on its staff, and the Yeraskhaun experimental station, which includes two hundred experimental hectares, is serviced by three dozen workers and six tractors.


   He is good at counting. But there is something beyond the numbers for him. A feeling close to what made Saryan stubbornly ignore neither the poverty of the Armenian land, nor its stones, write only its fertility. And it was pure truth, just as it is true that the stony soil in the hot sun favors the accumulation of sugar and aromatic substances in the fruits, as it is true that grapes grown on former salt marshes produce super-quality cognac. The taste of working salt in the luxurious fruits of Armenia. An admixture of an all-consuming love for this earth is in the most everyday affairs of a person. What Petrosyan tried to express in the words: “Yes, even if in a hundred years ...”


   Closer to Sevan, the mountains turn blue, as if the reflection of the famous lake falls on the slopes. An excellent highway leads to Sevan, Sevan has an excellent beach, and bars, and a parking lot for tourist buses, and a pier, from which pleasure boats filled with tourists depart every now and then.


   At the very piles of the pier, in shallow water, two elderly women from the Intourist bus wash their feet. Their companion, a very deep old man, is waiting for them on the shore. He stood for a while, and suddenly, as he was - in unrolled trousers, and old man's black, highly laced boots - stepped into the water! So he stood in the water on stiff legs and smiled bewilderedly and blissfully ...


   The fate of the people has developed in such a way that only a third of them live on the territory of Soviet Armenia. Three hundred thousand returned in the post-war years. many come to visit. The old man doesn't look rich, in his black boots, gray paper shirt, and black felt beret. But then he got up, set off on the road to once again see Ararat and wash his feet in Sevan.


   Sevan for Armenia is more than a lake. Sevan is the life of the Armenian land, its well-being. Armenia is not only rocky, but also waterless. Rainfed agriculture simply does not exist here.


  “Immediately try to improve the situation of the peasants and begin large-scale work on electrification and irrigation,” insisted V. I. Lenin in a historic letter to the Bolsheviks of Transcaucasia on April 14, 1921. “Irrigation is most needed and most of all will recreate the region, revive it, bury the past, strengthen the transition to socialism.” Every word in this message was like a sip of living water. However, the re-creation of the region was impossible without electricity. Sevan became its source.


   In 1936, the first hydroelectric power station was put into operation on Hrazdan, the only river flowing from Sevan, then on a short seventy from the square, delicately, inoffensively pushing the old quarters, pushing them back into the past, relocating people to comfortable apartments!


    Yerevan has no age, although according to calendar data it is over 2700. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the republic, the first stage of the metro was opened in Yerevan,

the second start-up construction of the year is a new air terminal. The architecture of Yerevan is young, it has evolved in our time. But even the newest streets are alien to the immaturity of the new building. How is this achieved? Visit the new Soviet district, where hundreds of thousands of Yerevan residents have already settled. The well-thought-out arrangement of the houses, the uncommon expression of the facades, the use of small architectural forms based on Armenian folk architecture, the intimate design of the squares and squares in advance create a feeling of habitation and convenience.


   In the evenings, the wind blows in Yerevan; not hard, but resilient, he sweeps the heat of the day out of the streets, he is applauded with all his poplar silver. The outskirts are gradually emptying, shops are closing, although the bowels of bakeries still glow for a long time, where flat Armenian bread stands on the shelves like tomes. The halls of libraries and theaters are filled. Philharmonic, where the State Choir of Armenia, now known to music lovers all over the world, performs. The central Lenin Square is also turning into a large open-air concert hall. Old and young, with children and alone, hundreds of people, they are standing, sitting on the warm stone of the parapets and steps around the fountain, waiting for the light music concert to begin. This, too, is a city custom, a habit. It will be passed on to children, it will become a tradition.


Irina Dementieva.

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