By Goran Prvulovic
Having not been to Serbia in close to twenty years, one of the first stops we went to was my mother’s village called Brusnik where I used to visit my grandparents. It’s a small village on the easternmost portion of Serbia, near the Bulgarian border. A 2002 census showed that the population was at 456, but after visiting their firsthand, I would say it’s closer to maybe a hundred people.
Not much is left here from my past, except for my mother who spends some time there with some of her friends. Brusnik is renowned as a significant wine region in Serbia, and at one-point bottles were exported even to countries such as France. Even still, the population of the village was never greater than 1,500 back in the 1950’s, and it has slowly shrunk since then.
With only a small general store in the village, everyone knows each other, and they are constantly inviting one another over for food. On that topic, most people tend to grow their own gardens of vegetables, as well as have their chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals. Yet if you visited you would be surprised to see just how bountiful the meals are – it’s more food than I eat here in Calgary!
I didn’t take too many picture landscape pictures of the village, so it might be hard for you to understand the scale of this little village. Instead, I chose to capture more of the smaller, close-up moments, such as this picture of my mother’s barn. On her lot, she has two houses, a garden, as well as a barn that used to house hay, some wine barrels, as well two dozen or so chickens. This is the view of inside the barn with some pretty good lighting outside peeking in from the cracks.
Here’s a picture of the same door but instead from the opposite side. From the outside looking in, it looks like a dark cellar that you wouldn’t want to venture into, whereas the other picture looks a lot better, almost like it was a still frame from some Hollywood western movie. It’s interesting how things can look so completely different from the other side.
Inside the barn is a small wine cellar where my family kept a variety of liquors. Although traditional red and white wine are typical, it is customary for many families to brew their own type of brandy made out of various fruits. Here’s a picture of a few of the wine barrels my mother still kept in her cellar, although most of them are empty.
For a village as small as Brusnik, there are many abandoned homes across the area whose owners either have passed away or left the village and left nobody to occupy it. Here’s one such home that has become overgrown with various vines and foliage. Seeing sites like this across my childhood home can’t help but remind me how much things have changed over the decades.
Another color picture of a neighboring house near my mother’s place. Most of the homes in the area were constructed by the people who lived there, as it was quite rare to see people buying homes outright or getting a mortgage as they do here in North America.
Although there aren’t that many people in Brusnik anymore, the small community that still lives there keep a Facebook page regularly updated.
Until next time,