Lake Baikal in southern Siberia is the largest, deepest freshwater lake in the world.
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Every winter when the lake freezes over for half the year, 80-year-old Lyubov Morekhodova straps on the same ancient skates she’s worn since the 1940s and glides across the ice wherever she needs to go.
Lyubov, or Baba Lyuba as she’s called, has been using the ice to travel around her remote homestead for her entire life. As a child, she recalls skating about 2.5 miles each way to school and back. She once fell through the ice in January and narrowly escaped with help from her classmates.
After raising her two children and working in a factory for almost 50 years, Baba Lyuba retired and now lives alone in a tiny cabin on the shores of Lake Baikal. Her children and five grandchildren rarely visit because they live five hours away by car, so her only company is her menagerie of dogs, cows, and chickens. Luckily, she has the ice to help her feel free!
“For me, ice means being able to go anywhere and everywhere,” the grandmother said.
Every day, she skates a half hour each way to the local village to do her shopping. With temperatures often reaching lows of -40 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s hard to imagine an octogenarian making this trek at all, much less every day! But Baba Lyubov insists that her daily skates are the secret to her long life span.
“People keep telling me I should slow down, but I just can’t!” she said with a laugh. “I don’t have time to be bored, there’s too much work to do.”
Baba Lyubov thinks of her daily exercise and routine as a sort of faith. She shuns organized religion in favor of the practical Siberian attitude toward life and death.
“Everyone should be in harmony with their own conscious and do no harm to others. Then all will be well,” she said. “Some folks are never content. They think everything is bad. One needs lots of money, the other a palace. Four walls and a roof over your head, that’s all a person needs.”
Whenever you’re tempted to feel sorry for yourself, just remember this Siberian grandmother skating her way through her senior years! Baba Lyubov is a perfect reminder that we’re only as old as we feel!
Learn more about her in the video below, and share this story to make someone smile.
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